The greatest toys for children with autism are the ones that provide the best opportunities for engagement and learning. Here are the top 10 recommended by parents and autism experts.
Toys are considered to be teaching tools for all children. The right ones can make all the difference, helping to build relationships, play skills, and communication skills. For children with autism, it is important to take into consideration that each child is different and so are their needs. Choosing a great autism toy depends on the child’s age, level of ability, and developmental stage.
Above all, the greatest toys for children with autism are the ones that provide the best opportunities for engagement and learning. Here are the top 10 recommended by parents and autism experts:
- Bop it! – Bop it! Is one of the most popular audio games on the market. The toy itself consists of buttons, handles, switches, and more. Play involves following a series of commands (pressing a button, pulling a handle, etc.) provided through the toy’s speakers. As the player excels, so does the pace. Bop it! offers a fun way to reinforce a child’s listening and concentration skills.
- Hungry Hungry Hippos – Hungry Hungry Hippos is a tabletop game designed to be played by 2-4 players. Each player has his or her own hippo that they must frantically feed with as many marbles as they can. Hungry Hungry Hippos introduces the notion of competition to a child, and imposes repetitive movement for proper hand-eye coordination.
- The Wiggly Giggly Ball – The Wiggly Giggly Ball is a big, colorful ball that giggles when it is shaken. The array of color on the ball is visually engaging and the ball itself is great for encouraging grabbing, throwing, and rolling. The Wiggly Giggly Ball addresses proper motor movement and development, hand eye coordination, as well as teaches cause-and-effect learning.
- Mickey Mouse Club House Color Adventure Ball Pit – The Mickey Mouse Club House Color Adventure Ball Pit is an inflatable clubhouse that younger and older children can both enjoy. The younger children can visually track the colorful balls, while the older children can grasp and toss the balls, encouraging playful interaction. The Mickey Mouse Club House Color Adventure Ball Pit offers fun sensory and socially engaging opportunities.
- Priddy Books – Priddy Books are lively, photographic books for children. They consist of various pictures, each of which can be matched with a button on the sound bar. By pressing a button, a child can hear the word describing what he or she is seeing on the page. Priddy Books are designed to stimulate a child’s imagination, and to encourage a heap of skill-building opportunities, including listening, learning, and finger-pointing.
- Glittering Vortex Lamp – The Glittering Vortex Lamp by The Therapy Shoppe is shaped like a lava lamp and it is filled with shimmering glitter that whirls and twirls around inside. The Lamp is designed to provide a child with a soothing sensation and it is perfect for sensory breaks. The Glittering Vortex Lamp is useful when a child becomes overstimulated, helping to prevent meltdowns and reinforcing positivity.
- 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Swing – The 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Swing by Little Tikes is a baby swing and toddler swing in one. It consists of a removable T-bar for loading/unloading, as well as a high seat back and safety belt. The swing is safe, easy to use, and perfect for little ones who are just starting to explore motion. The 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Swing provides an enjoyable approach to improving a child’s vestibular function, all the while developing his or her visual, spatial, perceptual, and postural control abilities.
- Fun-2-learn Smart Tablet – The Fun-2-learn Smart Tablet by Fisher-Price consists of a color-changing screen and keyboard. It is designed to teach letters, numbers, phonics, typing, music, and much more to little ones. The tablet also offers 6 different modes for learning and creative expression. The Fun-2-learn Smart Tablet maintains a child’s visual attention, encourages motivation to keep playing, as well as supports cause-and-effect learning.
- Fidget spinner – A fidget spinner is a toy that consists of a ball bearing in the center of a typically three-fold structure created from metal or plastic. It is designed to spin along its axis with little effort, helping to calm a child and to keep their hands occupied. A fidget spinner can help to increase a child’s focus, and to relieve their anxiety and nervous energy.
- Jumpsmart Electronic Trampoline – The Jumpsmart Electronic Trampoline allows a child to bounce along to lively songs and fun learning games. As he or she bounces, they are provided with much-needed effort and stimulation from their joints, thereby helping to regulate inner balance. The Jumpsmart Electronic Trampoline builds on certain skills, including attention and organization, as well as teaches cause-and-effect learning.
All of these toys can teach your child meaningful actions and help them to develop essential skills, such as social skills and language. They also create opportunities for positive interactions among their peers and your family.
If your child is showing a particular interest in something, such as cars, then it may be helpful to make the most out of that interest. Doing so will allow you to capture their attention in a comforting way, which can be especially helpful during times of stress or during therapy.
A natural way of learning
If your child’s autism diagnosis is new to your family, his or her therapist may be able to help you find appropriate and fun toys for him or her.
Is your child with autism visually-oriented? If so, then he or she may enjoy visual toys.
Is your child with autism socially-withdrawn? If so, then he or she may benefit from cause-and-effect toys.
Is your child with autism finding it difficult to perform simple everyday tasks? If so, he or she may benefit from simple fine motor toys.
Does your child have a lot of energy or find it difficult to channel their energy into something positive? If so, then he or she may benefit from physical activity play toys.
Introducing sounds, tastes, textures, sights, and smells can be quite overwhelming for a child with autism. This is why sensory toys act as “safe objects” to lower your child’s fear and discomfort through a natural approach - play.
All children learn through play. By determining your child’s unique needs, preferences, and interests, you can find a toy that will support his or her academic and therapeutic goals.