Gifts, gadgets, and toys for autism spectrum disorder can be challenging to select. You want your neurodivergent loved one to have something helpful but still enjoyable! This article is a guide of awesome toys and devices to help individuals with autism navigate life more easily while developing skills. These toys for autism can bring you fun, lots of shared experiences, and remarkable stories to tell!
Selecting Gifts, Gadgets, and Toys for Autism
It is crucial to remember that a person with autism has varying developmental abilities, so consider their understanding of the world when selecting an item. Remember that age does not always correspond with capacity, so try to find age-appropriate objects and games whenever possible. As you add items to your cart, keep these questions in mind as you shop:
- Will they enjoy this?
- Is it socially appropriate?
Here are a few of the best gadgets and toys for autism, categorized by what areas they help and expand:
Many children, teenagers, and adults enjoy sensory products and toys for autism. These items can distract from stress when traveling to visit family or doing something stressful at home. Examples of extraordinary sensory objects include swings and beanbag chairs. These items provide sensory input that can help a child with autism decompress.
Many other toys for autism provide sensory input that is enjoyable and helpful. To attain sensory input, try selecting toys with exciting textures. Consider toys that make noise or light up. However, be sensitive when selecting sensory items since many on the spectrum have sensory integration challenges. Be cautious not to pick something too overwhelming. It may be good to start with one type of sensory stimulation.
Sensory toys to consider are:
- Decompression stretch dogs
- Spiral drop timers
- Needles Palm Toy
- Fidget set
- Water Beads Sensory Kit
- Bubble Poppers
Children and teens with autism often experience challenges in coping with communication, unexpected events, and everyday sensory experiences. Their threshold for sensory stimulation may be lower than the general population, which can make daily experiences very draining. Calming and sensory-based gadgets and toys for autism are often delightful for individuals on the spectrum. Some items include things that vibrate, spiral, or move. A soothing gift is more than just pleasant. It can help a child cope with something they find challenging, which helps the entire family unit!
Repetitive, slow-motion items are typically visually engaging and soothing. Some great choices would be:
Weighted items also make fantastic calming gifts. While they can be expensive, adding weight can be extremely helpful to a child on the spectrum. Examples of this are:
Stores also offer weighted animals that create calming companions that can bring comfort while experiencing new adventures. This makes carrying a weighted object possible for stressful events. Examples of these toys for autism are:
Cause-and-effect toys for autism teach children that they possess the ability to influence their environment, giving them a sense of control and increasing their confidence. Examples of cause and effect include:
- Dropping a marble down a slide
- Pushing a fidget button to feel a pop
- Press a button and receive vibrating pulses
These toys for autism provide immediate positive feedback to the user. Additionally, they are fun and feature simple, repetitive actions that can quickly become turn-taking activities. They make excellent gifts for kids who struggle to engage socially by increasing the opportunities for social interaction with others. Taking turns allows a family or group of peers to enter a shared experience that is enjoyable and memorable. Joint attention, shared interactions, and turn-taking are foundational for social development.
Some developmentally appropriate cause-and-effect toys are
Toys for autism that spin, flash, or light up are often great for this population! Spinning toys like a top can be entertaining and mesmerizing for children with autism. While some parents may be hesitant about letting their children play with spinning toys because they do not want to encourage stimming or self-stimulating behavior, this kind of behavior can be helpful in some instances.
For example, carrying a spinning toy in your handbag can be beneficial if you need a few minutes to finish an important task. Those few minutes playing with the spinning top can make completing those tasks more possible. But remember, less is more with sensory items. Children on the spectrum should not use these toys for autism all the time as they can sometimes cause too much stimulation, resulting in distress.
Visual toys like this are:
5. Stress and Fidget
Fidget toys and stress balls are super popular now; you can find them everywhere! They make excellent, easy-to-carry focus aids that help manage stress and calm anxiety. Often these toys for autism are quiet, which is helpful, and can be made to be durable. Soft fidget toys work amazingly well in a restaurant, car drive, or classroom. Some great fidget toys are:
6. Academic and School Related
Fine motor skills are so essential for children on the spectrum! Helping them to build the strength needed to hold a crayon, use a fork, or even get dressed is vital. These skills are developed by building the muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists. Toys can make that exercise a ton of fun! Great toys for this are:
Many children will be able to develop hand strength through these toys. You can get color-changing putty to uplevel their play and experience. Other toys like drawing on a tablet will help a child refine their handwriting and fine motor skills. This put them at an advantage for starting school. Other great toys for preparing young students for school are:
7. Social Skills
One of the primary impairments of autism is delayed social skills. The great news is that practice can improve social skills, even if the child is nonspeaking. Learning social skills is complex, but many games cover scenarios to help children master them. Some great games for this are:
For a more mature audience:
It is helpful for parents and therapists to select games, books, and toys for autism that explore feelings that can confuse individuals with autism. By teaching empathy and emotions, we further their social development. Sharing and simple play with puppets can be helpful for this! Teaching children to empathize with others is crucial. Activities for this are:
- My Feelings
- The Empathy Game
- How do You Feel
- How Am I Feeling Blocks
- Smart Kids Social Skills Game Set
- Emotional Rollercoaster Game
ABA Therapy and Play at ABA Centers of America
Many excellent resources are available for children with autism to learn skills, build upon them and respond to stimuli in more helpful ways. While you may have to be creative when selecting gadgets and toys for autism, you can learn more about your investment by reading reviews and stars. Remember to keep some of these toys aside for special occasions, so they do not become routine. You want these toys to remain special and highly motivating.
ABA Centers of America focuses on play-based therapy methods that are fun for kids and their families. Clients always look forward to seeing their Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for ABA therapy sessions. For more information on how ABA therapy can help your child with autism, call ABA Centers of America at 844-923-4222 for a free consultation or visit abacenters.com.