Autism symptoms in adults are considered to be one of the issues that many people, even experts, do not know much about. Although many symptoms have similarities with childhood autism symptoms, they show differences. In adulthood, behavioral differences arise due to the individual’s ability to adapt to life in some way. Understanding whether these behaviors are also caused by autism can be seriously confusing.
Autism symptoms in adults may include specific symptoms in general. These include difficulty regulating their emotions, clumsiness, difficulty speaking, difficulty forming or maintaining friendships, excessive interest in certain topics, monologues, preferring more solitary activities, difficulty understanding body language and facial expressions, constant repetition, prone to making involuntary noises, hypersensitivity to smells or sounds, having trouble understanding idioms or sarcasm, social anxiety, difficulty following changes in daily routines, superior abilities in mathematics and related disciplines, or feeling the need to organize things in a certain way.
Why Is Autism Difficult to Diagnose in Adults?
Individuals who were not diagnosed with autism in childhood may have much milder symptoms compared to their peers. This makes it difficult to diagnose by examining the signs of autism in adults. Another reason, if an adult has been living with autism symptoms for a certain period of time, it becomes more difficult to be diagnosed with autism because it becomes easier to manage or hide the symptoms and signs.
Autism Sensory Toys for Adults
When it comes to autism, it is thought that only children need sensory toys, but adult autistic people definitely need them, and this issue should not be ignored. We have to accept that there are adults with autism, too. Unfortunately, autism is not a disorder that disappears by the age of 18. Therefore, toys or tools that provide the sensory stimulation needed by autistic adults should be developed. Adults with autism, ADHD, or any sensory processing disorder can benefit from them.
Although adults with autism who want to have the most comforting sensory input have developed strategies for themselves, they also need sensory toys that will meet their needs. It is very important for these individuals to understand their own triggers and, most importantly, the factors that cause stress. Because it helps them know which toy or tool will be useful when and how. The main thing is to practice activities or use toys before they reach their most stressful and tense moment.
For adults with autism, there are different categories in terms of sensory toys and tools. They can be whole-body sensory tools, small sensory toys that are in packet size to carry everywhere, noise cancellation tools, and ignoring sight and smell tools.
- Compression Clothing: These are usually underwear. They are designed and produced as pressurized and narrow. Training clothes that tightly hug the body can also be counted as such clothes. Many brands offer different versions to their customers at different prices.
- Deep Touch Pressure: It is an input that creates a relaxing effect for both autistic and neurotypical individuals. This type of deep pressure helps release serotonin in the body. In this way, it encourages the feeling of calm and relaxation in the individual. Weighted blankets, weighted vests, weighted pillows, or weighted lap pads can be used for this purpose. Individuals with autism of all ages are comfortable with it, but it has been observed that they are more beneficial for adult autistic people. Individuals who need more pressure can use two different weighted items together.
- Sensory Brushing: Stimulating the skin will be very beneficial for the autistic adult who is having a stressful day. For this purpose, such soft-toothed brushes should be used. These are called soft surgical brushes.
- Bean Bags: The tools considered bean bags are actually the tools that take the shape of the body and provide comfort to the individual. An example of these is bean bag chairs. It easily takes the shape of the individual’s body and relaxes the individual by creating a hugging effect. It is often preferred by adults with autism because it provides the same level of deep pressure from many different points at the same time. It is easy to find them at different prices at different stores.
- Swinging and Rocking: Swinging has always been an activity that everyone will love, from old to young. The linear motion of swinging shows a soothing effect on individuals with autism. This linear motion activates many senses and offers sensory integration. While children with autism may not notice this distinction, it makes a big difference for adults with autism. Swinging is a very relaxing activity for adults with autism.
- Changes in Temperature: Cold or hot instead of warm provides relief to individuals with autism when they feel overwhelmed. Using a moist heating pad, an ice pack or a cooling towel will be helpful in such cases.
- Sensory Balls: Balls are tools that can be rolled easily on the body, apart from their use as we know. Balls of different shapes, sizes, and textures can be used according to need. It can even be used for massage by adults with autism. They can roll over sore muscles.
- Fidget Toys: Fidget toys are toys that provide sensory input that autistic individuals of all ages need or may need throughout their lives. There are many different options. They vary according to need. In particular, they can be used to improve a problem or they can be used to reduce anxiety in daily life. They can also be helpful tools in developmental stages such as improving dexterity, strengthening finger movements, or providing hand-eye coordination. These can be a play dough, a chain, a rubber, stress balls, erasers, or even more.
- Oral Chewing Toys: Oral motor input can sometimes be quite important for individuals with autism. They may need it, especially during meltdown times. Although it is perceived as embarrassing to carry a chewing toy for adults with autism, it is an inevitable fact that these adults need it when we consider that they are more stressed in their daily lives compared to neurotypical individuals. At this point, it is important to choose safe and durable chewing toys.
- Headphones: Noise-canceling headphones act as a life jacket in the lives of individuals with autism. Especially when listening to calming music, makes a big difference in an individual’s daily life. Smaller earphones may not provide enough noise protection, so it is always better to try larger ones. In addition to headphones that provide noise cancellation, those that can listen to music should be preferred. Being an adult doesn’t mean you’re over the sound sensitivity if you’re in the autistic world. Unexpected and sudden noises can always frighten you or create tension. Headphones can also be used to avoid this situation.
- White Noise Machine: These machines do not directly block the surrounding noise. Instead, it offers different sound options. It suppresses the unwanted sounds in the environment and allows the preferred sound to be heard. Generally, relaxing sounds are preferred. It is one of the most preferred tools, especially by individuals with autism who live alone.
- Softer Items: It is to your advantage to place soft items, both sound-blocking and tactile, in any corner of the house. For example, it can be placed inside the kitchen cabinets so that the sound of pots and pans does not disturb you.
- Less Distraction and Calm Colors: Visually reducing input is a situation preferred by adults with autism. It is very useful in improving concentration and increasing attention. That’s why adults with autism should prefer calming colors in the color selection of the environment they live in. These colors give them calmness and make them feel comfortable.
- Coloring Books: Coloring books designed for adults both provide relaxation and allow you to have a very enjoyable time. While coloring books designed for children are more effective in the development of fine motor skills, coloring books designed for adults have more emotional or attention-focused purposes.
- Sensory Lighting: It is a known fact that individuals with autism are sensitive to light. Therefore, low-wattage bulbs should be preferred. It is very important to avoid fluorescent bulbs or self-flashing lights. In the most general terms, it is necessary to avoid any visual input that will cause issues in the visual system.
- Improving Smells: Smell is also of great importance in meeting sensory needs. Autistic children may not be very aware of this, but autistic adults can even state it consciously. Therefore, essential oils, candles, incense, or scented lotions should be placed in the environments where these individuals live.
Recommended Sensory Products for Adults With Autism
While even two neurotypical individuals have different ways of processing sensory information and perceiving the world, we should not forget how different this situation can be in two individuals with autism. Adults with autism can benefit from sensory toys just as much as children with autism.
Special Supplies Chewy Jewelry Sensory Necklaces and Bracelets
Although it is similar in terms of sensory needs, it is necessary to pay attention to this difference when buying oral sensory toys, since the jaw structure of autistic adults is stronger than children with autism. Toys specially produced for adults should be preferred. They are made of very durable materials. They are very ideal for autistic adults who need the extra sensory input provided by chewing. They are very comfortable to wear and lightweight. A pack comes with 8 different colored bracelets and necklaces, 16 in total. It is a good long-term and affordable investment. Amazon.com: Special Supplies Chewy Jewelry Sensory Necklaces and Bracelets, 16 Pack, Soft and Flexible Silicone, Interactive Stress and Anxiety Relief for Kids, Supports ADD, ADHD, Autism : Health & Household
Munchables Hamsa Hand Sensory Adult Chew Necklace
It is an ideal chewing pendant for adults with autism. It is ideal for adults with its design, shape, texture, and color. It is made of a highly strong and thick material that fits perfectly the strength of an adult’s chin. It is a kind of indestructible chewing pendant that can be used for a long time. It helps them self-regulate during anxious times and gives them calmness. It comes with an unbreakable chain. It is highly recommended by occupational therapists and users as well. Amazon.com: Munchables Hamsa Hand Sensory Adult Chew Necklace – Sensory Chewable Jewelry for Adults, Teens, and Kids (Silver): Health & Household
MTLEE 6 Pieces Fabric Chewy Necklace
It is a very convenient set of necklaces that promote calmness and focus. It prevents autistic adults from chewing the neckline of t-shirts or what they wear at that time. They are made of quality toweling material which protects them from easily deformed, broken, and tearing. They are highly comfortable to wear. They do not give harm your neck. They meet more or less every need of autistic adults by giving calmness and relieving comfort. Thanks to its design, it is easy to separate and mix colors. They can be easily adjusted according to preferences. Amazon.com: 6 Pieces Fabric Chewy Necklace Clear Chew Necklace Baseball Chew Necklace Sensory Fabric Necklaces Chew Bands for Boys Girls Decorations Red Blue Green: Health & Household
Steel Lynx Möbii Fidget Ball (Solid Color): Quiet Mobius ADHD Anxiety Stim Stress Relief Toy Tool
It is one of the best fidget toys for autistic adults you can find on the market. It is a very strong and stylish stress ball for adults with sensory issues or autism. It is not recommended for children due to its size. It is a bit small for them which can lead to suffocation. However, thanks to its design, it looks very professional for adults to use in classrooms or workplaces. It is silent but 100%. It can be easily fidgeted in almost any situation and environment without others even noticing. It is highly recommended by users and can be counted as a great investment. Amazon.com: Möbii Fidget Ball (Solid Color): Quiet Mobius ADHD Anxiety Stim Stress Relief Toy Tool for Home Travel Office or Desk (Small, Full, Slate): Handmade Products
BunMo Fidget Toys – Magnetic Fidget Rings Fidget Toy
It is a multipurpose magnetic ring that can be used for different purposes, especially for adults who need sensory stimulation. There are 3 rings that are easily connected, spinning, and fidgeting. They are made of very strong material and very hard to break. They help to increase focus, relieve anxiety, calm nerves, improve fine motor skills and dexterity, and even break bad habits. They come with a small and nice bag to carry everywhere easily. It is a great alternative set as a gift as well. It is highly recommended by satisfied customers. BunMo Fidget Toys – Magnetic Fidget Rings Fidget Toy. The Fidget Ring Spins, Connects, and Separates, Making Ideal Easter Basket Stuffers for Adults or Easter Basket Stuffers for Teens (amazon.com)
DoDoMagxanadu Fidget Dodecagon –12-Side Fidget Cube Relieves Stress and Anxiety Anti-Depression Cube
It is a greatly designed cube that keeps the mind and fingers occupied to allow adults with sensory needs or autism to focus better. It is a pocket-sized fidgeting cube that can be carried everywhere easily and played in any environment. There are 12 sides with 12 different fidgeting features. It is suitable for both children and adults, but mostly adults, in terms of staying awake, relieving anxiety, keeping focused, releasing comfort, and engaging the mind and hand easily. There are different color options to choose from according to your preferences which are the black, white, black-red, black colorful, green, black, and blue sky. Overall, it can be counted as what an autistic adult needs to fit the environment while keeping them relaxed. Fidget Dodecagon –12-Side Fidget Cube Relieves Stress and Anxiety Anti Depression Cube for Children and Adults with ADHD ADD OCD Autism (B3 Blue Sky) (amazon.com)
Brainwright – ICOSA – The Atomic Fidget Ball – Twist, Turn, Fidget!
It is a Rubik’s cube alike fidgeting toy which is very fun and helpful. It keeps the mind and hand busy, reduces anxiety, decreases stress levels, improves dexterity, and gives comfort. It provides multiple sensory integrations. It also helps to develop three-dimensional thinking by inspiring individuals with its colors and design. It is especially suitable for adults with autism in terms of increasing focus time and providing calmness during stressful environments and workplaces. Brainwright – ICOSA – The Atomic Fidget Ball – Twist, Turn, Fidget! (amazon.com)
SeaPine Forest Magnet Balls Over 600 Mini Magnetic Putty Desk Fidget Toys for Adults
It is an amazing magnetic toy that provides multiple advantages. It comes with a magnetic metal box and more than 600 magnetic stress stones. It can be used as a decompression toy due to its magnets. You just need to grab some according to your need and palm size, smash, and stack. In this way, it gives some pressure to make you calm. Also, the sound can make you relaxed. There are a couple of usages for both neurotypical and autistic individuals. If you are in a stressed work environment, they help you to relieve anxiety and stress. If you are in a boring environment, you can play with them silently. If you are bored, you can grab some and give them the shape you want to use as a unique decoration. If you want to break your bad habit such as nail biting, you can use them in order to change your focus point. The only thing you need to be careful about is that you need to keep them away from children and animals due to their small sizes. Amazon.com: SeaPine Forest Magnet Balls Over 600 Mini Magnetic Putty Desk Fidget Toys for Adults Magnetic Beads Desk Toys for Office with Rectangular Box: Toys & Games
ppoqq Haptic Fidget Slider Metal Fidget Toys for Adults, EDC Fidget Release Anxiety Tension Stress Magnetic Fidget
It is a piano-liked-designed fidgeting toy, especially for adults. When you feel anxious or stressed, it will be your best friend to relieve stress and tension. It is small and comfortable to carry everywhere. It gives the right amount of tactile stimulation and stimming need. It provides the right amount of deep compression to give comfort. It also helps to break bad habits. Overall, it is a very beneficial sensory toy with a stylish design for adults. However, if you are not satisfied with the product, it has a refund option. Amazon.com: ppoqq Haptic Fidget Slider Metal Fidget Toys for Adults, EDC Fidget Release Anxiety Tension Stress Magnetic Fidget: Industrial & Scientific
GebeaBWN Magnetic Fidget Shpere – Pentagons 12 Pieces Aqua Magnetic Fidget Toys for Adults
It is an excellent set for boosting imagination while keeping your hands and mind occupied. You can be creative as much as you want and create unique ornaments. While creating those, you can easily release pressure, anxiety, and stress. It helps adults to improve work efficiency and attention time. They are made of strong crystal pentagons. These magnets allow you to create amazing ornaments. You can easily stack or recover them. You will be highly satisfied with this set as a fidgeting toy. It is also a great alternative as a delightful gift. Amazon.com: GebeaBWN Magnetic Fidget Shpere – Pentagons 12-pcs-Aqua Magnetic Fidget Toys for Adults: Toys & Games
ZQFTZQ Haptic Coin Fidget Slider, Magnetic Push Sliders, EDC Fidget Toy, Magnetic Blocks, Hand Spinner
It is a perfect decompression desk toy, especially for adults. It has a slider magnetic design which is very simple but highly effective in terms of giving needed stimulation everywhere, for example in the home, class, work, and even subway. Like other fidgeting toys, it relieves stress and anxiety. Thanks to its pocket size, it can be easily kept and carried. It is portable enough to play with one hand. Regardless of age and gender, everyone who needs fidgeting can play. Amazon.com: Haptic Coin Fidget Slider Magnetic Push Sliders EDC Fidget Toy Magnetic Blocks Hand Spinner Office Fidget Toy Magnetic Sliders Dessert Decompression Desk Toys ADHD Gifts for Adult Kids (Orange 2): Toys & Games
Yrissmiss Fidget Toy for Adults
It is a well-designed spinning fidget toy. It has an ergonomic design that is easy to hold and exercises fingers. It is very light-weighted and easy to carry everywhere. With its weight, it is very satisfying to play with it since it gives the right amount of pressure. Each spin moves separately and smoothly which gives a great feeling. It helps to relieve stress, keeps you busy during boring times, boosts finger dexterity, and actives brain thinking. It becomes one of the favorite toys for adults. Also, it is a great gift alternative. Overall, it is a highly affordable but satisfying product. Amazon.com: Yrissmiss Fidget Toy for Adults, Fidget Gyro Toys, Gift Ideas Fidgets Gifts for Boys Girls Teens Kids, ADHD Autism Stress Relief Finger Toy Hand Fidget Spinner: Toys & Games
LEGO Icons Succulents 10309 Artificial Plants Set for Adults
It is very well-known that individuals with autism have some obsessions. They may be very addicted to some specific topic. If this obsession is planting, this could be a perfect toy for them. It is a fun way to keep them busy. This set can increase their attention, focus, and creativity while having fun and keeping them busy. As a result, they will have great decoration as well which is made by them. They will alter their hobbies to real stuff with this set. They look very real. There are different options you can find on the market according to that person’s interest level. LEGO Icons Succulents 10309 Artificial Plants Set for Adults, Valentine’s Day Gifts, Home Décor, Creative Gift Idea (771 Pieces) (amazon.com)
NBZXSYMAG Toy Pen, Metal Magnetic Pen, Magnetic Sculpture Fidget Pen, Eliminate Pressure Fidget Pen
It is a deformable magnetic pen that has a fun and creative design. The set comes with 2 nibs, touch screen pens, 12 magnetic pens, 12 steel balls, an instruction, and a box. Due to its deformable design, it can be rotated easily and combined differently. It helps to boost creativity, intelligence, and imagination. It can be used as a multifunctional decompression toy by individuals with special needs and autism. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety, especially during anxious times. It is a nice pen to spend time on while keeping your hands busy. It is highly recommended by teachers, therapists, and users. Also, it is a great gift alternative for neurotypical individuals. Amazon.com: NBZXSYMAG Toy Pen， Metal Magnetic Pen， Magnetic Sculpture Fidget Pen， Eliminate Pressure Fidget Pen for Desk Toys， Magnetic Fidget Pen Gift for Kids or Friends (Colourful): Toys & Games
Anzmtosn Cool Hammer Fidget Spinners Chain Metal, Rainbow Fidget Spinner Gifts for Adults, Spinners Finger Rings, Fidgets Infinity Cube Blocks Anxiety Stress Relief Toy Set
You will get exactly what you see in the picture when you purchase this set. With the different products it comes with, it gives different spinning options to make you relieve and decrease stress levels. They all are silent, smooth, and highly durable. It helps you to find a new perspective, be creative, and to improve focus. While keeping your hands busy, will give you an opportunity to use your brain and imagination. It is a highly affordable set with different toys at once. It is also a great alternative gift for Marvel fans. Cool Hammer Fidget Spinners Chain Metal, Rainbow Fidget Spinner Gifts for Kids Adults, Spinners Finger Rings, Fidgets Infinity Cube Blocks Anxiety Stress Relief Toy Set (amazon.com)
Yue Motion Liquid Motion Bubbler Visual Sensory Timer, 2 Minute Liquid Timer– New Big Calming Sensory Bubbler Toy
It is an eco-friendly and highly functional bubbler to be used as a calmer and more entertaining toy. There is no electricity or battery waste with this product. It helps to release anxiety, improve focus, and give time awareness. It takes 2 minutes for the liquid to go from one side to another when you turn it down. It is a great visual clock without having a ticking sound which disturbs some individuals with autism. The liquid has bright and colorful bubbles to get attention easily. These bubbles have a mesmerizing effect on those individuals and provide calming relaxation. As a timer, it has a lava lamp alike design that can be used as a decoration as well. Overall, it is very effective and functional. Yue Motion Liquid Motion Bubbler Visual Sensory Timer, 2 Minute Liquid Timer– New Big Calming Sensory Bubbler Toy (Single Pack) (amazon.com)
Crtiin 50 Pieces Anxiety Sensory Strips, Textured Sensory Strips, Tactile Rough Sensory Stickers, Adhesive Tactile Fidget Tape, Textured Sensory Strips
They are textured adhesive tapes specifically preferred by adults with high-functioning autism who are more aware of their emotions and the environment they are in. There are 50 tapes in each set with 5 different styles and quotes. These quotes are focus, calm, breathe, it’s okay, and 1-2-3-4-5 to decrease stress levels by counting. They have a granular textured surface to provide enough sensory input. They are very easy to apply to smooth surfaces with their adhesive backs. They can be stuck to phones, laptops, books, notebooks, tables, or desks. With their textures, it helps to improve concentration, maintain calmness, relax state of mind, and reduce the anxiety level. It helps individuals with high-functioning autism to control their anxiety behaviors. You do not need to maintain it regularly. If you feel like they are not useful anymore, you can easily replace them with the new ones from the package. Amazon.com: 50 Pieces Anxiety Sensory Strips Textured Sensory Strips Tactile Rough Sensory Stickers Adhesive Tactile Fidget Tape Textured Sensory Strips for Desk, Adults Teens Anxiety Relief Toy (Classic Style): Office Products
Speks Fleks Silicone 6-Piece Building Set – Mulberry – Fun Desk Toy for Adults
It is a great alternative as a sensorial and calming tool for adults. It consists of magnetic pieces that give you an opportunity to combine in different shapes endlessly. It is a perfect tool to boost creativity and imagination while keeping your hands busy. It is kind of a party for the hands of individuals who need tactile stimulation. It is a well-designed versatile fidgeting toy that can be used as entertainment as well. There are different color options available to choose from which are bluegrass, evergreen, marigold, and mulberry. Speks Fleks Silicone 6-Piece Building Set – Mulberry – Fun Desk Toy for Adults (amazon.com)
WHIMSYYY Moving Sand Art Liquid Motion Bubbler Flowing Sand Art Picture Desktop Sensory Calming Fidget Toy
Even though it is a little pricey product you can find on the market, it is one of the most functional and preferred products. It is voted as the best product among others. It helps to relieve eye fatigue and alleviate pressure. It also helps to improve creativity. Each time when you turn upside down, you will create different pictures. It is highly beneficial for intelligence and sentiment. It gives you relaxation during the making process while watching the sand dropping. It is a nice gift alternative as well. Amazon.com: WHIMSYYY Moving Sand Art Liquid Motion Bubbler Flowing Sand Art Picture Desktop Sensory Calming Fidget Toy Voted Best Gift! (Ocean Heart): Toys & Games
SNOOZ Pro – Smart White Noise Machine – Real Fan Inside, Non-Looping White Noise, Adjustable Tone & Volume
It is an excellent product for individuals with autism who are easily affected by noise. Noise makes them anxious and increases their anxiety level. So, these kinds of white noise machines block the noisy environment such as traffic sounds, barking dogs, snoring, loud neighbors, and even more. It enhances their sleep quality. It has a portable size to travel easily. Amazon.com: SNOOZ Pro – Smart White Noise Machine – Real Fan Inside, Non-Looping White Noise, Adjustable Tone & Volume – App-Based Remote Control & Sleep Timer – Travel Case Included – Cotton: Health & Household