As an ABA therapist, I have been asked what kinds of autism toys can help my child become motivated to learn, stimulated, as well as educational?
I would like to share some educational toy ideas that have helped children develop language, fine motor skills, cause and confidence, use of sensory system, completing activity and appropriate toy play.
If your autistic child needs to satisfy sensory and oral needs, the super yummy, which is five teethers in one, is a great choice. It has different textures on each side, and is scented with vanilla. This encourages sensory exploration, and can satisfy the need to chew on something.
Books that have different textures, smells, and colors can also help, especially if you child is hesitant to touch different textures. Books are very soothing and not overwhelming, which can make the introduction to these new textures easier.
Balls that are bumpy, squeezable, and scented are great for development too. The child can smell it, squeeze it, throw it, and kick it for gross motor development. Children with autism learning colors, motor skills, and cause and effect might be interested in hammer ball toys, stacking cup, marble work toys, things that you can pull, peg puzzles, and links.
If your child is ready to engage in pretend, play sequencing, and or social skills, video modeling is great because most children with autism are visual learners.
Some more ideas for autism toys:
Your child might enjoy Einstein cards, little toy animals, boats, planes, and toy cell phones. Sometimes things that are shiny are very motivating as well.
Your child might not like to touch certain items for one reason or another, meaning it could be the way it looks or smells. You might try finger paints, even though it is very smooth, is aversive to them. The approach could go one of two ways when playing with this, depending on your child. You have to remember every child is different.
One way I have done it is to spread the paint on a surface and slowly place a finger of the child in it for a second and see the reaction. If the reaction is positive put more of the fingers in or hand or arm for a short time and slowly increase the time.
Sometimes playing with a favorite item in the paint can help your child realize its ok to touch it. Another approach you can take with your child is to put his or her whole hand into the paint and take it right out and do that again farther into it each time so the whole are is covered. Sometimes even putting the paint on your child's arm or hand instead could help. When I do these techniques I also would do it to myself and have fun with it. Usually by the end of a session or the next one the child just wants more of it.
Some other autism toys that can also help with gaining your child's interest shape sorters that have different textures on each side, pop beads where each pop bead is different by shape, feel, or smell. There are matching boards where you have to match the textures too. You can use different items around the house such as wash cloths, towels, and blankets and make the play fun with them, such as peek a boo, swinging a child in a blanket, rub the different cloths along the face arms or wherever.
Some fine motor activities are pop beads, puzzles, ring stackers, stringing beads, bean bags, putty, crayons and coloring books, the pretend food that can be cut, Playdough, blocks, and Legos are to name a few. As well as helping with fine motor skills these items can also be used to teach colors, shapes, and possibly patterning skills
If your autistic child needs to learn pretend play, some autism toys that can be fun are puppets, doll houses, pirate ships, kitchens, tea parties, and playing with animals. One great way to teach appropriate pretend skills is by using video modeling. Over the years working with children with autism most of the children were and are visual learners. Video modeling becomes great because your child can watch it over and over again until they learn an example of how to play with that item. Video modeling is usually used with the kids that are verbal and that have already gone through at least the beginning curriculum and maybe even the intermediate one.
I have found this terrific website created by a School Psychologist. She has created Children Succeed - a place where parents, teachers and other professionals can access research based information about children on the spectrum and buy games that provide the support and structure kids need to develop skills while still having fun.
Joan's passion, as a School Psychologist, is to help children on the autism spectrum to develop better social and communication skills. She loves finding new ways to help kids develop skills in a way that is enjoyable and rewarding to them. Her website offers some great games that helps their social awareness and relatedness grow while they have fun and feel good about their accomplishments.Check out Children Succeed Here
This is a popular video on Youtube talking about autism toys and play for children with special needs.