How to Choose a Toy for Children with Autism
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to choosing the right gift for a child on the spectrum. It’s important to know a bit more about the child and learn what they enjoy, and what they are capable of. Many autistic kids enjoy toys and activities which are quite different from their non-autistic peers.
Toys which encourage and teach children how to interact with others are great for those with autism, who often struggle with this. Board games can be helpful, particularly those where players have to work together and there is no winner or loser.
Look for something which will provide hours of entertainment for the child. Often, children with autism don’t like to have too many toys as it can be overwhelming. Instead, choose high-quality toys which will be used over and over again and enjoyed.
Outdoor toys are often well-received by autistic children. They can be used to help provide opportunities to play alongside other children. They can help reduce anxiety and allow children to burn off some extra energy, just like their peers.
Considerations When Choosing Toys for Autistic Boys and Girls
It’s important to consider whether the children has any sensory needs, as this can help you find a gift they will really enjoy. Providing a gift to help with sensory cravings can also help children have their needs met in a safe and fun way.
For example, some children love to bite and chew on things, so these kids can benefit from toys or bracelets which are safe to chew on. Other children love light and visual stimulation, so they often really enjoy things like light-up toys, bubbles and paints.
Just like when buying a gift or toy for any child, you should also consider the individual’s likes and dislikes. They might have a favorite character, or be really interested in dinosaurs or fire engines for example. So, find out what they are into and choose something they will really love!
Below, you will find great gift ideas for an autistic child, whatever your budget.
Feelings and Emotions Flashcards
These feelings flashcards are an excellent gift for autistic kids who find it difficult to read facial expressions. The set includes 40 cards, with 4 for each of the 10 different emotions. There are 4 different examples of each emotion, so children can see different faces to help them learn to read emotions. There is a full color picture on each card, then on the reverse is the word which describes the emotion being shown. The emotions flashcards are also ideal for older children who struggle with understanding and reading others’ emotions.
Colored Counting Bears & Cups
Counting toys and sorting toys are great for autistic toddlers, and this one is no exception! There are 72 bears in 6 different colors, and 6 co-ordinating colored cups. So children can count out the bears and organize them into different color groups. It’s also great for helping children learn the words for different colors and numbers. This is a great toy for an autistic child age 3 and above – it is not recommended for younger children due to the choking risk. If your child often chews or bites on toys, it might be best to skip this toy, or only use under supervision.
Toys & Games for Autistic Children
Finding a great toy for a child with autism can be difficult as their requirements, likes and dislikes might be different from neurotypical children of the same age. Below, we have chosen a range of toys children who are autistic are sure to appreciate and enjoy.
12 Sensory Processing Toys
This is a great set of toys for autistic 5 year old children and above. The little toys can easily be carried around and used whenever the child feels the need to do so. These are also great fidget toys for kids with ADHD. It’s great to keep these toys in the car or in a bag, so they can be used everywhere and anywhere. Even older kids and adults will enjoy using the puzzle toys to keep the hands and mind occupied.
Marble Maze Mat
This marble maze toy is perfect for helping children who have concentration issues. It can help kids sit still, and is ideal for use in the car or in the classroom. The maze toy can help children develop fine motor skills and is also great for reducing stress and anxiety. 1% of each purchase of this toy is donated to KultureCity, to help benefit autistic individuals. The company also offer weighted lap blankets, in a range of different animal designs. These can also be heated or cooled, and are great for helping reduce restlessness.
Fat Brain Toys Squigz
Squigz are great toys for autistic boys and girls who like to stack and build. This kit contains 50 pieces, so there’s plenty of different shapes and colors to make a range of great sculptures and creations. The Fat Brain Squigz adhere to just about any surface, they can be used on windows in the car and even in the bathtub. They’re great for relaxing and reducing stress, as well as encouraging creativity and fine motor skills. The Squigz come in a great, reusable storage container, and they don’t leave any marks on surfaces they have been stuck to.
Best Sensory Toys for Autism
Sensory toys are really wonderful gifts for children with autism. They can help their sensory needs be met in a way which is fun and safe. Here, we have a selection of sensory toys for autistic children to help them deal with sensory processing difficulties.
Jelly BeadZ Water Beads
Jelly Beadz are great sensory toys for toddlers. The beads come in a tiny package, so all you need to do is soak them in water in a large container for a few hours and they will grow to around the size of a marble. Children will love to play with the water beads for hours, and even adults will enjoy having a go! The beads are ideal for indoor or outdoor play, and can be reused again and again if stored in an airtight container between uses. The beads are great for creating a sensory box, particularly an ocean-themed one. You can add small plastic toys and let kids rummage around and have a treasure hunt!
Body Sock Sensory
Sensory socks are ideal for children who have conditions such as autism, ADHD and sensory processing disorders. It comes in a range of sizes to fit children of different heights. Body Sox have a calming effect on children, and can be used in a variety of different ways depending on how the child is feeling. Children can hide and take comfort in the sock when they feel they need it, and it can also be used to help establish body boundaries.
The body sock is also ideal for imaginary play – children will love the soft and stretchy fabric. The sock can even be used for sleeping in and is ideal for promoting self-calming. Parents will love how the body sock can be machine washed too!
This star light projector is ideal for autistic children, to help them feel calmer, and prevent sensory overloading. The projector has loads of great features – it can project in different colors, it can rotate or remain stationary and it has a timer which can run for up to 995 minutes before automatically shutting off. The projector part can be removed, meaning the product doubles up as a plain white nightlight too. There’s a hanging strap included, and the unit can be powered either using batteries or buy the included USB charger.
Final Thoughts and Our Conclusions
There are loads of great toys and gifts for children with autism. It’s impossible to choose one best gift, as autistic children are all individuals, and will appreciate different things depending on the severity of their condition. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of the types of toys and gifts available which might appeal to the child you are buying for.