Toys for autistic kids can definitely become part of the child’s treatment plan. As part of the wider treatment plan for Autism, and even Asperger Syndrome, toys can play an important role in the development of autistic children.
How Toys Help Autistic KidsToys that engage and stimulate kids are a big help, especially for autistic kids, and parents are always looking for more of such toys. In fact, in most of the cases, anything that the child interacts with is seen as a big win for the child.
Most kids usually enjoy sensory toys (they want to touch everything, sand, clay, anything that they can get their hands on). Good tactile toys are a great fit for such children with autism. On the other hand, if your child is visually oriented, go in for interesting visual toys, such as motion lamps, liquid timers, etc.
On the other hand, autistic children who interact very little with other people can benefit from cause and effect toys (teaches children that our actions can cause something in the environment to change.)
Various Toys and their Strengths
Its a known fact that children learn a lot through play (it teaches them important skills like social skills, learning to use a language, and so on).
One big challenge for a parent of an autistic child is to get them to interact with others, and to get toys for them that will engage them and stimulate them. The good thing is that you will find age appropriate toys that will help them do that, and also sharpen their unique skills.
For instance, musical instruments help improve interaction, especially when taught by a teacher. Lego or construction set games help develop a child’s motor skills. Electronic devices like iPad too can be helpful although it should be used with some caution.
We have listed here a wide selection of toys & games that are fun to play and also helps in the development of autistic children.
- Age appropriate board games not only let an autistic child interact with others, its great fun for the family and can serve as family bonding time.
- Autistic kids generally have good eye – hand coordination and are good at sports; these toys only serve to sharpen those skills.
- Musical instruments are also great for such kids as it develops and exercises various parts of the brain, and also helps to develop motor skills.
- Construction sets and tool kits require hands-on activities thus developing fine motor skills. Lego type blocks, tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, and the like encourage hands-on activities.
- Electronic devices such as the iPad can be a good teaching tool, but autistic kids should not spend a lot of time on it, instead, they should focus more on activities that encourage social interaction. However, you may use time on the iPad as a reward for good therapy sessions or other good behavior.
Autistic children often need something to stimulate their senses, especially tactile. Sensory toys are good for this. These include toys that encourage the child to feel, touch or interact with them.
Shape It Sand
Suitable for ages 3 years and up. Moon Sand is a malleable substance that allows children to shape and reform the substance into various forms. Manufacturers say it doesn’t dry out. This is a good toy for kids in the autistic spectrum as it helps develop fine motor skills, and they like the touch and feel of the sand. It has a silky like feel and a different texture than ordinary sand. It is in a 11 x 7.8 x 2.3 inch box that weighs 4.5 pounds. User’s moms recommend washing hands before and after use to extend Moon Sand’s life. It vacuums up easily and best stored in a plastic box when not in use.
Recommended for kids 3 years and older, Brain Food has won several Creative Child Toy Awards. It is said to help develop the brain by networking the right and left side, and is a great stress reliever. Its available in different colors, is tactile and very moldable (similar to play Doh), something that autistic people may play with for hours. This product is also used to help rehabilitate individuals with certain types of brain injuries. Just keep in mind that it sticks into carpets and can stain.
Peanut Exercise Therapy Ball
Recommended for kids 6 years and older (under supervision), but the smaller sizes will work for younger kids as well. The Peanut Ball is a vinyl exercise ball made for rolling and sitting on, and can be used for therapy for people with balance and coordination problems. It is oblong and shaped like a peanut, is durable and comes in several sizes and colors.
Hohner 16-inch Rainmaker
Suitable for kids aged 3 and older, the Rainmaker produces soothing sounds (as if its raining) as the marbles in a tube flow down through holes. Just turn it over and it repeats the sound. It is multi-colored and comes in different sizes and styles. You can even adjust the Rainmaker to simulate a heavy downpour or a gentle rain. This toy is sturdy, and is a great stress reliever.
Liquid Motion Bubbler
Suitable for kids aged 5 years and up. Some autistic children like to watch light and motion. The Liquid Motion Bubbler toy has color and motion that helps kid wind down. It comes in a variety of colors, is 6 inches long and 2.5 inches in diameter. It’s similar to a lava lamp, but doesn’t require heat to work.
Tangle Therapy Toys
Recommended for ages 5 to 12. Tangle Therapy toys help children relax and reduces their fidgeting by giving them something to do with their hands. They are a rubberized material of 20 segments with bumps so as to provide a relaxing and therapeutic sensory experience. These toys are used in therapy sessions to increase hand usage and dexterity. Many users have also successfully used these toys as an aid to quit smoking. It is segmented and is 1 x 4.6 x 7 inches.
Intended for children 3 years old and up, Kaleiodogears helps keep a child’s attention, develops eye hand coordination and special reasoning. No wonder, its recommended by several autistic study groups. Kaleiodogears are brightly colored gears linked together that spin. It is a tough toy that will withstand years of abuse. This is a simple looking toy with spinning colored gears that engage the mind of an autistic child. It requires assembly, which may involve and engage the autistic child too.
Suitable for kids 6 years old and older, Perplexus Original is a great toy to improve dexterity, motor skills and eye hand coordination. Its also a great way to learn patience and control. Here, you have to move a ball around a series of paths and make it reach an end goal. The Perplexus maze is inside a clear plastic globe with several brightly colored layers and paths to maneuver around. The player can pick a color and attempt to maneuver the marble on it to the end.
Always Choose Quality Over Quantity
There are many helpful toys for autistic children that help them in various ways. As with most things, its better to go in for quality over quantity, more so in the case of autistic children. If you get your kids too many toys, it can overwhelm them and also confuse them, and finally they may not play with any of the toys. So the idea is not to buy everything or a lot of toys but to find one toy that works and stick to it. On the other hand, a good quality, well-designed & durable toy could engage your kids for years.
Funtoyworld is a family-managed website with me (Ben), and my wife doing most of the work. We are proud parents of two wonderful kids and love reviewing toys. We have a firm but friendly “democratic parenting” style and offer several practical suggestions backed by extensive research. Our own experience with raising two children prompted us to share our knowledge. Read more.