Sensory difficulties frequently accompany autism. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association added sensory sensitivity to the diagnostic symptoms of autism. If you have a child with sensory issues, you may want to bring home some autism-specific sensory toys for them to play with.
Toys are designed to stimulate the five senses of a child: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. They may consist of elements such as vivid, contrasting colors, sounds, and various textures. The purpose of these toys is to help children develop their senses in a safe and natural setting through play.
What are sensory difficulties?
There are two types of sensory issues that may affect an autistic child: hyper- and hypo-sensitivities. Both types of sensitivity affect how a child processes and response to various stimuli. These include, but are not limited to, the following, per Autism Speaks:
- Body Awareness
How do sensory toys help children with autism?
Toys that stimulate the senses help children with autism relax, concentrate, and remain calm in response to a situation or event. It allows them to grasp objects with less effort and discomfort, playing more naturally. Moreover, sensory toys facilitate the development of social learning skills such as negotiation, planning, and sharing.
How are sensory toys used with autistic children?
The use of sensory toys to assist autistic children is becoming increasingly common. There are numerous varieties of sensory toys for autism, each appealing to one or more of the senses. Sensory toys pleasantly engage a child’s senses.
Sensory toys used to treat autism can help children focus, calm down, and relax; however, they are not a replacement for formal, evidence-based treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Ultimately, the purpose of sensory toys is to help children develop their senses through play. A child with autism may better understand their feelings and how to control them using space.
The Best Toys for Autistic Children
As a child psychiatrist, I’ve experimented with and evaluated numerous games and toys with my patients and children. For children with autism spectrum disorders, it is crucial to select toys that are not only enjoyable but also therapeutic.
My list of games for autistic children is also available here. Here are some excellent toys for autistic children:
1. Sensory Mats
TickiT Silishapes Sensory Circles – in Home Learning Toy for Calming Sensory Play – Set of 10 – Assists Autistic Toddlers & Children
A collection of sensory mats is an excellent sensory toy for autistic children. This is a collection of small mats, each with a distinct texture. The children can then use their hands and feet to explore and play with the various surfaces. You can even have your child close their eyes and walk over the mats while you ask them to describe what they feel.
2. Chew Toys
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It is common for parents to use chew toys for their infants, especially during teething, but chew toys can also benefit children with autism. Chew toys are made from non-toxic silicone and can be held in hand or worn as jewelry around the neck or wrist. They have a variety of textures, including dots, ridges, and patterns, and can also be smooth. Chew toys are intended to promote the development of biting and chewing skills and sensory stimulation.
3. Sand, Slime, or Putty
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Slime Kit & Putty Lab – 4 Types of Amazing Slime for Girls & Boys Plus 4 Types of Putty Including Magnetic Putty, Educational STEM Toy, an AMAZON EXCLUSIVE Science Kit
Sand, slime, and putty may also benefit your child as one of the best sensory toys. These allow your child to develop fine motor skills while playing. Children can play with the material alone or in conjunction with other objects. In addition, the substances are frequently vividly colored, which appeals to their visual senses.
4. Pin Art
Toysmith Classic Pin Art (Black), 5 – 10 years
Autism-friendly pin artboards are great for both children and adolescents. These toys feature steel pins that allow children to create and examine imprints. You can make imprints with your hands and fingers, as well as with other objects and toys. The unique sensation of the pins when touching the pin artboard makes it an ideal mess-free sensory toy for autistic toddlers and adolescents.
5. Rainmaker Toys
Hape Beaded Raindrops | Mini Wooden Musical Shake & Rattle Rainmaker Toy, Blue, Model Number: E0328B ,L: 2, W: 2, H: 7.9 inch
Try a rainmaker to appeal to a child’s sense of hearing! A rainmaker is an enjoyable toy and an excellent present for autistic children. When playing and listening to the soothing sounds of “rain,” they can help a child with autism relax. The bright colors and cascade of falling beads are an additional benefit of this toy, as they allow a child to engage multiple senses without becoming overstimulated.
6. Fidget Spinners
Crayola Globbles, Fidget Toys, Squish Gift for Kids, Assorted Colors, 6 Count
A few years ago, fidget spinners became the latest fad. Consequently, you have likely already encountered them. These toys help children concentrate by occupying their hands. Excellent for children with autism and children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many children enjoy the spinners’ smooth and rapid rotation, and with so many different designs available, you’re bound to find one that your child adores.
7. Electric Dog Pet
WEofferwhatYOUwant Electronic Pet Dog Harry. Batteries Included. Interactive Smart Puppy Toy Robot Responds to Touch, Walks, Barks, Sings, Dances, Chasing Fun Activities.
Autism can make it difficult for a child to process sounds. However, one study revealed that the sounds from home appliances and everyday pet noises from toys desensitized autistic children who may struggle with noise.
Ongoing research examines the benefits of interactive robot toys for autistic children. The Electronic Pet Dog Interactive Puppy is an excellent tool for encouraging your child to interact with objects and become accustomed to various sounds. This Electronic Pet Dog responds to your child’s touch and gives signals. As your child becomes more used to the toy, this may aid their auditory processing and socialization.
8. Senseez Vibrating Cushion
This vibrating pillow is an excellent way to help calm your child due to its soothing motion and sound. In addition, a recent study found that vibrating sensory toys can improve children’s verbal initiations and responses, thereby encouraging social interaction.
9. Body Sox
Sanho Yopo Dynamic Movement Sensory Sox, Medium,6-9 years old, 47''LX27''W Blue
This interactive toy functions by permitting the child to don a colorful, transparent, and breathable lycra sock. Children with autism find that pressure reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation.
10. Reflective Balls
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These sensory reflective balls assist autistic children in developing their visual senses. According to studies, children with ADHD and autism are less capable of processing visual sensory information. This is an excellent way to get your child started!
Which sensory toys are most beneficial for toddlers with autism?
When it comes to choosing toys for autistic children, the same types of toys popular among toddlers should be considered. Puzzles, blocks, balls, vehicles, and books are all excellent for toddlers, regardless of their condition.
Autism-Related Sensory Toys and Gifts at BlackFridayWeeks
We are aware of the sensory challenges that autistic children may face, so we have occupational therapists who will guide children and parents through a variety of options for supporting children with hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to sensory stimuli. Additionally, we supplement our primary treatment modalities with sensory toys when appropriate. In a safe and natural play environment, toys that stimulate a child’s senses can help them learn and become more familiar with these senses.
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