If you have a child with autism, it is crucial for you to provide and allow them to have opportunities for sensory play to work on their five senses. Exposure to sensory toys may encourage them to be more curious about the things around them. Some children might also have sensory sensitivities, such as being overstimulated or overwhelmed by sounds. Sensory toys can be used for the child to explore what is typically an overwhelming stimulus in a safe or digestible amount, helping them be more receptive to it. Also, sensory toys have been shown to allow children with autism to focus, relax and calm down. This helps to distract them or calm them down quickly from what they were feeling at that point of time such as anger, a meltdown or being upset (TLC, 2022).
However, it is important to note that sensory toys are not a substitute for evidence-based treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. This just helps them to learn about their senses in a fun way and also learn to manage it (Hood, 2020).
There are tons of sensory toys to choose from and we might not know what is best for our child. So, here are some toys that can help them learn more about things around them and in social situations (TLC, 2022).
Sensory Mats: Each piece has a different texture and children can use their hands and feet to touch and feel around.
Chew Toys: Sometimes children with autism tend to get overwhelmed or overloaded with information and they would try to look for something to chew on. This provides them proprioceptive input that some children may look out for.
Sand or Slime: This helps with their fine motor skills and boosts creativity.
Fidget Toys: This is best suited for older children as some parts are tiny and may be a choking hazard. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and for the child to have better focus and attention (Marcin & Fischer, 2022).
Weighted Sensory Turtle Lap Pad: This provides a calming effect and sensory and tactile input and it is easy to bring around (Marcin & Fischer, 2022).
Musical toys: Noise can be sensitive for a child with autism and with toys that make noises, it can help to desensitise them and it would allow them to learn to listen to the different sounds (Hood, 2020).
Pin art: The unique feeling of pins pressing against your skin makes it a great sensory toy when a child is overstimulated and plus there’s no mess involved (Hood, 2020).
Rainmaker toys: Playing and listening to the soothing sounds of "rain," can help a child with autism relax. This toy also has bright colours and a cascade of falling beads, which allows a child to engage with multiple senses at once without becoming overwhelmed (Hood, 2020).
Reflective balls: Helps a child develop a visual sense (Hood, 2020).
Senseez Vibrating Cushion: The soothing vibrations of the cushion makes a child feel safe and secured. Vibrating toys has shown to improve verbal initiations which gives the child an opportunity to socialise or interact with other children.
Written by Jasvinder Kaur
Hood, J. (2020, August 28). 10 Best Sensory Toys for Children with Autism | Carmen B. Pingree. The Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://carmenbpingree.com/blog/best-sensory-toys-for-children-with-autism/
Marcin , & Fischer. (2022, June 30). The 15 Best Toys for Autistic Kids (Gill, Ed.). The 15 Best Toys for Autistic Kids. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/toys-for-kids-with-autism
TLC, B. (2022, February 21). Sensory Toys for Children with Autism - Behavior TLC. Behavior TLC. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://behaviortlc.com/blog/sensory-toys-for-children-with-autism/