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The Best Sensory Toys for Children with Autism

Autism and sensory issues tend to go hand in hand. As a parent raising a child with ASD, you often wonder, “What is a good toy to help with this?”

To answer that question, first we need to explain what sensory toys actually do. Sensory toys are called that because they stimulate one or more of a child’s 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. They often include elements to excite the child such as; Bright colours, fun sounds, and different textures. They aim to help a child develop sensory processing in a safe and natural way.

Some of you might be wondering, what exactly are sensory issues? Children with autism tend to have one of two sensory processing issues: hyper-sensitivity or hypo-sensitivity. These both affect how a child reacts to the world around them.

How do Children Respond to Hyper Sensitivity?

Children with hyper-sensitivity over respond to their environment. This can often be referred to as “Sensory Overload”. What this means, is that children can end up overwhelmed with strong smells or loud noises. There are different methods to help children with hyper-sensitivity. In order to properly assist your child with this, you would need to consult their occupational therapist or another professional in order to find the right method for your child.

How is Hypo Sensitivity Different to Hyper Sensitivity?

As opposed to it’s counterpart, hypo-sensitivity actually means the child is prone to be under responsive. One example is a high pain tolerance. They may not feel pain as much or at all. They may even be under responsive to signals that help with coordination and balance. Helpful methods for children that are hypo-sensitive, are strong tasting foods, a weighted blankets, and exercises that improve coordination, like jumping or running.

How Can Sensory Toys help Children with Autism?

Sensory toys have a wide variety of uses. Some can be used to relax, some can be used to focus or even to calm a child down. These toys however, do not replace evidence based treatment for your child. They are meant to help your child learn about the difference senses in their own ways.

What are the Best Sensory Toys for Children with Autism?

Wondering what are the best sensory toys for Children with Autism? here are some suggestions…

Bubble Poppers

Bubble Poppers are silicone toys that relieve stress by simulating the experience of popping bubble wrap. These toys are budget friendly and can be found in stores such as Home Bargains, B&M and Poundland.

Sensory Mats

Sensory mats are a wonderful option for Children with Autism as they appeal to the touch sense. Each mat has its own unique texture. Your child can experience different textures and you can enjoy this product with your child as well. You can let them run their hands and feet over the mats and even have them close their eyes and try to tell you what they feel.

Teething Toys

One common use for this specific type of toy, is for infants that are teething. Another great use is for children with ASD. These are made out of a non-toxic silicone material and they tend to either be handheld or worn as jewellery (a necklace or bracelet). They have a variety of choices of textures. You can choose dots, ridges, patterns, or even smooth! Not only do these wonderful toys provide sensory stimulation, they help your child develop chewing and biting skills. They are a great option for kids that like to learn how different textures feel on their mouths.

Putty, Sand, or Slime

A third great option would be putty, sand, or slime. These fun little toys can help children develop fine motor skills. With these toys you can use other objects with the substance or just play with the material itself. They’re also very brightly coloured so they appeal to the child’s visual sense!

Rainmaker Toys

For the auditory and visual senses, a rainmaker toy is an excellent option! This toy has been known to relax a child with autism as they listen to the sound of the “rain” that this toy emits. Even without the noise, this toy is a wonderful idea with the colourful beads that children can watch inside the rainmaker! It is a fun way to utilize multiple senses without overwhelming the child.

Fidget Spinners

Ah, yes. The ever popular fidget spinner. These toys were made to help children focus by keeping hands busy. This toy is great for kids with autism and children with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder). The rotation is fun for any child! With the many designs available you’re sure to find one that your child will love.

Further Reading…

Sensory Play Benefits for Children