With one in 88 kids being diagnosed with autism (one in 54 boys) chances are your child, niece, nephew or neighbor may have Autism. Choosing appropriate sensory toys for Kids with autism or products that make good gifts for Autistic kids can be a challenge because these kids tend to play with sensory toys in non-traditional ways. In the best case scenario toys for kids with autism should be fun as well as provide some learning or therapeutic benefit. So what makes a toy a proper fit for Autistic kids? Here are a few examples:
Sensory Toys for Kids with Autism
Sensory toys are toys for kids with autism that stimulate a child’s visual, tactile, and/or auditory senses. They can light up and spin, vibrate, make noise or just provide a comforting pressure and warmth that can help also help kids remain calm.
Simple vibrating toys or a massage pillow often are great “toys” for a kid with autism.
The simple, constant vibration is enjoyable and can help to calm and comfort your child. You want to avoid things like shiatsu massagers or “kneading” massagers because they can cause irritation and can further agitate a child. You want one that does not have an on and off switch or items with any sharp edges in case your child becomes agitated and begins to act out or throw something. Although this is not based on science, Parents, Teachers and others who work with autistic kids have noted for years that these types of toys work extremely well.
Light up toys tend to be very popular for children with Autism. Many Autistic are highly visual and enjoy spinning toys that light up, toys that create calming waves of light and other toys with lights. Toys that have patterns or rhythms of lights can also be calming. You can use these toys as a fun distraction during car rides, while you are running or to keep your child happy while you have an important meeting or have a guest over. They also tend to be the most enjoyable toys for kids with autism.
The world can be very confusing and stressful for a child with autism. Often times these kids have communication challenges and find it hard to understand what is going on around them and/or what is expected of them. Calming toys can really help them during this time and provide some consistency during stressful transitions during the day, or new situations a child must face. One of the most effective types of toys to help a child stay calm, is a toy or product that provides deep pressure.
Think about when you are really upset and someone gives you a warm and comforting bear hug. When you’re ready to leave the hug you feel comforted, you are much more calm and relaxed. A bear hug is a form of deep pressure. A popular way to provide this same deep pressure feeling is by using a weighted vest or blanket. Calming vests and blankets help to mimic the “bear hug” feeling so that your kids can calm down and stay focused. These items can work well during car trips, at school, during a meal or other important events.
Social Communication Autism Toys for Kids
Autistic kids on the spectrum can have no verbalization skills or understand what innuendos are when people use them and in many cases, do not know how to carry on a conversation. These kids can have a tough time making a full sentence or understanding when it’s time to respond correctly to the other person. They can make an unreasonable demand like I will see you in 5 minutes at a specific place, even though you have a 20 minute walk to get there, and then hang up the phone expecting you to be there. Knowing how to properly socialize and communicate is key for kids with Autism, so board games and card games that teach communication skills are great tools that will help kids with Autism be better prepared for the future.
There are a ton of toys that are labeled as being friendly for Autism, but not all of them are. You have to be cautious and careful with what you buy and make sure you also don’t break the bank. There are plenty of affordable options that work great for kids with Autism. Just remember to go through the list above when you are picking one out or find a trustworthy shop where you can find products for kids with Autism.
About the Author.
Bonnie Arnwine has been helping people and kids along the Autism Spectrum for more than twelve years. She has spoken nationally for the Autism Society of America, the Fragile X Society as well as parent and teacher conferences across the country. She attends almost every major show for Autism and hand selects every one of the autism products based off of her extensive knowledge of the disorder. I am excited to be guest posting here and would like to invite you to visit my store www.NationalAutismResources.com.