The choice of games and toys for children with autism is different compared to neurotypical children. Although the expectations and needs of each child are different, it is much more important to include the movements and activities that attract the attention of children with autism and who enjoy doing them.
Teaching how to play with toys instead of the self-harming behavior observed in children with autism should be one of your goals. For this, you need to choose toys that are suitable for reducing the self-harming behavior that is not accepted in society. In order to determine the sensory motivations your child needs, you, as a parent, need to observe what type of self-harming behavior your child engages in and determine the toys suitable for his/her needs by taking notes.
- Visual Stimulation: Autistic children look at lights, follow rotating objects with their eyes, examine their hands, or move their fingers in front of their eyes. In order to reduce the need for visual stimulation, it is appropriate to buy toys such as flashlights, spinning lamps, wheels, hourglasses, magnetic balls, light sticks, light guns, whiteboards, binoculars, drying toys, etc.
- Auditory Stimulation: Autistic children try to sing songs, sing vocals, hum, click their tongues, or tap their fingers on things. It is important to choose toys that make sounds to replace auditory stimuli. For example, whistles, bells, talking toys, radios, toy pianos, music boxes, toys that make a sound when pushed or pulled, hair dryers, etc. can be chosen.
- Tactile Stimulation: Autistic children stroke their own bodies, pinch themselves, put a finger in their mouth, or wrap their hands with strings. For such children, tools such as puppets, fish hooks, and sensory toys can be used.
Benefits of Sensory Toys
Sensory toys, as the name suggests, are used for mostly tactile stimulation. They are very useful and beneficial for autistic children. It provides a tangible way for them to interact with their environment that they will understand. In this way, they better understand their environment. Sensory toys are beneficial for all children, although children with autism benefit more.
Sensory toys have many different benefits. It helps autistic children to focus on something specific, reducing their stress and anxiety levels and helping them calm down. Sensory toys are beneficial not only psychologically but also physically. It helps the development of balance and hand-eye coordination by strengthening the muscles and bones. They are toys that are highly preferred and recommended by both parents and therapists.
Sensory toys remove anxiety and bring calmness. That’s why they are usually soft toys. They are not visually distracting. Care is taken to ensure that these toys are not over-stimulating in terms of sound, sight, and smell.
Autistic children face many different challenges compared to their neurotypical peers. That’s why it’s so important for them to learn about emotional integration. They need to learn so that they can communicate and interact with their environment in a healthier way. Learning sensory integration allows them to recognize their emotions and better understand their environment.
Sensory toys help autistic individuals in many different ways. They enable the development of both gross and fine motor skills. They help reduce stress and anxiety. They make them aware of their own feelings. They help develop their social skills and communication skills, thus increasing their self-confidence. Sensory toys provide the right amount of sensory input. Therefore, it is frequently preferred and recommended by occupational therapists.
Sensory toys are often designed to stimulate all 5 senses. Because they need to provide the input needed for the brain to process information. Sensory toys are usually vibrating toys, soft toys, weighted blankets, etc. Because they provide tactile stimulation and enable the body to react. Such products are also often preferred for sleep routines. Because the pressure they provide provides the comfort and confidence that children with autism need.
There are also sensory toys for autistic children who need oral stimulation. These toys can be sensory chew toys or toys made of silicone. These toys should be chosen according to the needs of the child, some children prefer rough toys while others prefer smooth toys. When choosing these toys, you should pay attention to whether they contain small parts. Because they can cause suffocation.
You don’t need to spend money to have sensory toys or play sensory games. You can easily create it with the materials you have at home as well. For example, bubbles are very useful for children with autism and can be easily made at home. For autistic children with sensory problems, water games are very useful activities if your child does not have a fear of water. Playdough can also be a second alternative. It can be played as a fun, relaxing, and creative activity.
Sensory activities, sensory games, and sensory toys are very beneficial not only for children with autism but for all children. Sensory toys are no substitute for any therapy or intervention, but they are a great support. They assist in recognizing the senses during therapies and interventions. In this way, children with autism learn both to recognize their own emotions and how to manage these emotions. Therefore, they are more beneficial for children with anxiety and socialization problems. The biggest benefit of sensory toys is that they offer comfort and convenience. They allow them to know their environment in comfort.
Sensory toys are versatile, beneficial, and useful tools. They can be used by both children with autism and children with other sensory processing disorders. They can activate more than one sense at the same time. In this way, these children can explore the natural environment around them. In addition, they help self-regulation by reducing stress.
There are some recommended and highly preferred sensory toys you can find below. They should meet most of the sensory needs of individuals with autism or ADHD. If these toys do not meet those needs, you can always find more on the market or the internet.
Matican Store Push Pop Bubble Fidget Sensory Toy, 4-Pack Push Pop Fidget Toy, Square, Purple, Orange, Mint Green, Yellow, Party Favors
These are very simple but highly effective toys for individuals who need sensory input. They are greatly designed products in order to calm anxiety and provide comfort. They keep their hands busy and occupied. Especially children will be amazed by the texture. They are designed to be educational as well in order to encourage fine motor skills, basic math, and sensory exploration. They come with a set of 4 in different and vibrant colors. So, they can be used to teach colors. They are made of silicon which is a safe material for children. They are easy to clean and easy to carry everywhere. They are highly recommended by users. Push Pop Bubble Fidget Sensory Toy, 4-Pack Push Pop Fidget Toy, Square, Purple, Orange, Mint Green, Yellow, Party Favors (amazon.com)
Nutty Toys Jumbo XXL Pop Tubes Sensory Toys
It is one of the best sets you can find on the market with its larger size. They are simple, fun, and multi-use toys. With their larger size, they are very easy to stretch and retract. They make even sounds during this movement. You can even attach them together and create a chain. With all these features, children will have fun while playing with them. They have an educational purpose for children with special needs, especially those with autism as well. They can help to develop motor skills, creativity, hand-eye coordination and increase focus. They easily keep them busy while providing comfort and calmness. They are highly recommended by parents and therapists. Amazon.com: Nutty Toys Jumbo XXL Pop Tubes Sensory Toys 5pk, Fine Motor Skills Learning Baby Toddler Toy Top ADHD & Autism Fidget 2023 for Kids Best Preschool Gifts Idea Unique Boy & Girl Valentines Day Presents: Toys & Games
Hape E0328 Beaded Raindrops Musical Instrument and Rattle Blue
Even though it is one of the classics, it is an instrumental toy that provides calmness and auditory stimulation. As we all know that individuals with autism are very sensitive to sounds. So, this toy has a calming sound. Also, the beads inside are visually interesting and have a soothing effect on them. This means that it provides sensory inputs at once without making them overwhelmed. It can be a very good alternative to make individuals with autism steady and calm. With its design, it is safe for everyone and easy to grip by everyone of different ages. It provides exactly what they need to see and hear. It is highly recommended by families. Amazon.com: Hape E0328 Beaded Raindrops Musical Instrument and Rattle Blue: Toys & Games
CanDo Theraputty Plus Hand Exercise Putty
It is a great sensory toy in terms of both tactile and visual sensory inputs. There are many benefits of it for children with special needs and children with autism. With its structure and design, it helps to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. With the squeezing movement, it helps to relieve anxiety, decrease stress and tension levels, and keep them calm. Also, since it comes with different vibrant colors, it is an excellent input for color recognition. Each color has a different strength level. As a parent, you can be comfortable purchasing because it is made of high-quality, non-toxic, and premium materials. Overall, it is a great investment. Amazon.com: CanDo Theraputty Plus Hand Exercise Putty for Rehabilitation, Exercises, Hand Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Strengthening, Improve Motor Skills, Stress Relief 2-ounce 6-Piece Set: Health & Household
Atsky Sensory Chew Necklace for Kids and Adults, 5 Pack Silicone Chewy Toys, Oral Motor Aids Chew Pendant
It is very well-known that individuals with autism need oral stimulation, especially during tantrums and anxious times. As a result, they like the sensation of chewing. That feeling gives them relaxation and comfort. Even though they are popular among children, adults prefer them as well. They are made of soft and durable materials which are very healthy for the teeth. They are also made of non-toxic material which is safe for children to use. They can be easily washed. Parents like these features apart from their benefits. Since they come in different colors, they are good for color recognition. Amazon.com: Sensory Chew Necklace for Kids and Adults, 5 Pack Silicone Chewy Toys, Oral Motor Aids Chew Pendant Chewable Toys for Boys and Girls with Autism, ADHD, Reduces Chewing Donut: Health & Household
Gafly Sensory Chewing Tool Necklace for Kid’s Sensory Integration with Autism and ADHD
It is a differently designed chewing toy. These chewing necklaces are good for both adults and children with autism, ADHD, PDD, etc. They help to decrease anxiety and anxiousness levels. They promote calmness and help to keep them calm. With its design and texture, they can play with their hands instead of chewing. Each side of the pendant has different textures to provide different sensory inputs. They keep active and anxious individuals busy for a while. They are made of high-quality and safe materials. They come with cords and clasps as well. As a parent, you need to be careful about using cords to avoid choking. They are highly recommended. Amazon.com: Gafly Sensory Chewing Tool Necklace for Kid’s Sensory Integration with Autism and ADHD | Textured Silicone for Teething, and Biting, 2 Pack with Extra Cord and Clasp in Assorted Colors (2 Pack): Health & Household
Be Amazing! Sense & Grow Textured Bean Bags
It is an excellent sensory toy set to teach children with autism, ADHD, and PDD texture and colors. It helps them o reach their developmental levels. There are 9 beans in each bag. They come in a great and cute bag. Each bean is in a convenient size and easy to grip. All of them have a different, unique, and interesting texture. They all provide both visual and tactile inputs. So, there are many benefits and advantages. They are good for color recognition, fine motor skills, muscle development, and creativity. With its portable design, it can be taken and played everywhere. This feature can help parents to keep their children calm. They can be used for therapeutic reasons as well. It is highly recommended by therapists and parents. Amazon.com: Sense & Grow Textured Bean Bags: Toys & Games
Bouncyband — Wiggle Seat – Little Sensory Cushion for Kids Ages 3-7 — Promotes Active Learning, Improves Student Productivity, Includes Easy-Inflation Pump
Children with autism, ADHD, and other sensory processing disorder take advantage of this wiggle cushion. It is a great alternative for them, especially in class. There are different sizes to choose from according to your child’s age and needs. It is important to choose the right size to make them comfortable. It gives the motion and tactile input that those children need while not distracting others. It allows them to keep calm and increase focus. Apart from sitting on it, they can step on it as well, and this way it helps to develop their core strength. There are different color options as well to choose from according to your child’s preference which are blue, gray, green, orange, purple, and silver. It is especially highly recommended by teachers. Amazon.com: Bouncyband — Wiggle Seat, 1 Pack – Orange, 10.75” D – Little Sensory Cushion for Kids Ages 3-7 — Promotes Active Learning, Improves Student Productivity, Includes Easy-Inflation Pump: Office Products
Playlearn Cuddle Ball Knot Pillow – Sensory Pillow – Plush Toy Hugging Pillow – Calming Stress Relief Toy for Kids
It is a very well-designed cuddle bag for children with anxiety, ADHD, autism, or other serious sensory problems. With the pressure and texture it has, it gives a relaxation and sense of security. It is made of soft and plush material to help to decrease anxiety and increase the comfort level. It is a great alternative for those children as a way of keeping the nervous system calm. It helps them to self-regulate as well when they feel overstimulated or overwhelmed. Since it has a different design and shape, it is easy to cuddle and carry everywhere. There are different color options to choose from according to your child’s preference which is gray, blue, and purple. Amazon.com: Playlearn Cuddle Ball Knot Pillow – Sensory Pillow – Plush Toy Hugging Pillow – Calming Stress Relief Toy for Kids – 10 Inch – Grey: Toys & Games
AFLUODN Simple Popper Fidget Bubble Toy, Fidget Dimple Toy with Fidget Keychain, Handheld Mini Silicone Stress Relief Popper Toys, Squeeze Bubble Sensory Toys for Kids Adults
Recently, it is a very popular stress-relieving toy among especially autism community. It has both fun and educational purposes. If an individual with autism needs sensory input without any noise, this is exactly what he/she needs. It also helps to increase focus time. It is made of multipurpose silicone which is safe to use by children as well. It has a portable design to carry everywhere. Amazon.com: Simple Popper Fidget Bubble Toy, Fidget Dimple Toy with Fidget Keychain, Handheld Mini Silicone Stress Relief Popper Toys, Squeeze Bubble Sensory Toys for Kids Adults: Toys & Games
Cevioce Fidget Slug Toy, Sensory Slug Fidget Toy for Kids & Adults, 3 Pieces Cute Autism Sensory Toys for Autistic Children, Toddler Toys｜Exercise Wrist Strength & Stress Relief
With its interesting and fun design, it is a nice decompression toy. There are many benefits of it in terms of educational and therapeutic reasons. It provides both visual and sensorial inputs. With these features, it helps to relieve stress and anxiety, develop logical thinking ability, and boost their thinking and creativity. It provides hand exercises as well to develop fine motor skills. The wiggling and flexible body that it has gives you a very good decompression. It is very easy to play with and very easy to carry everywhere. As a parent, you can buy with confidence since it is made of high-quality and non-toxic materials. It is a great gift alternative for children with autism, ADHD, and other sensory issues. Amazon.com: Cevioce Fidget Slug Toy, Sensory Slug Fidget Toy for Kids & Adults, 3Pcs Cute Autism Sensory Toys for Autistic Children, Toddler Toys｜Exercise Wrist Strength & Stress Relief, Great Gift for ADHD: Toys & Games
Impresa – 5 Pack Original Stretchy Fidget Sensory Toys for Kids and Adults – Monkey Noodles
It is a simple, fun, and stretchy set for individuals who need self-regulation and self-soothing. It is highly preferred especially by adults. You can stretch, pull, wrap, and squeeze as much as you want, and eventually, it goes back to its original shape. These monkey noodles are amazing in terms of providing sensory input. They help to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, promote calmness, and increase focus. These features make them a perfect alternative for individuals with ADD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sensory issues, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism. They are 12 inches long and with stretching they can reach up to 8 feet. It is highly recommended by teachers, therapists, and parents. Impresa – 5 Pack Original Stretchy Fidget Sensory Toys for Kids and Adults – Monkey Noodles – Stretches from 12 Inches to 8 Feet (BPA/Phthalate/Latex-Free) (amazon.com)
CuberSpeed Moyu Rainbow Ball Magic Cube Moyu 12 Holes Magic Rainbow Ball Puzzle
It is a fact that individuals with autism have stimming behaviors. Solving puzzles can be considered a stimming behavior as well. So, this is a great alternative for them to spend time with calmness by keeping their fingers and minds busy. The only thing they need to do is push the balls into the center. It provides both tactile and visual inputs. It enhances memory and helps them in terms of color recognition. It has a highly portable design to carry everywhere. It is recommended by teachers for every child. CuberSpeed Moyu Rainbow Ball Magic Cube Moyu 12 Holes Magic Rainbow Ball Puzzle (amazon.com)
Roxenda Speed Cubes, [5 Pack] Speed Cube Set
These Rubik’s cubes are excellent for both neurotypical and autistic children. They both have fun while self-regulating themselves. The set comes in 5 different shapes and designs to not make them bored in a long term. It helps to foster a sense of space and enhance memory. It is an amazing set for memory and attention. While it is good for children, it is good for elderlies as well in terms of preventing memory loss. It is highly recommended by parents. Amazon.com: Roxenda Speed Cubes, [5 Pack] Speed Cube Set – 2x2x2 3x3x3 Megaminx Skew Pyramid Cube Smooth Magic Cubes Collection Puzzle Boxes Toy: Toys & Games
Ganjiang 6 Pieces Squeeze Bean Keychain Fidget Toys Pack for Both Children and Adults (3 pieces Pea & 3 pieces Peanut)
It is a perfect alternative for stimming in quiet places for individuals with autism. Especially adults with autism are very satisfied with these toys since without drawing attention they can self-regulate themselves. These beans provide a bit different sensation than other fidget toys. They are easily squeezed out to make people stress-free. They enhance thumb and finger strength in this way as well. They have a very realistic and portable design. You can hang them on your backpack, pencil case, wallet, or keychain. Apart from all these beneficial features for autistic individuals, they are good for breaking bad habits such as smoking, peeling skin, or biting nails. They are highly recommended by users. Ganjiang 6PCS Squeeze Bean Keychain Fidget Toys Pack for Both Children and Adult (3pcs Pea & 3pcs Peanut) (amazon.com)
Elibia Set of 3 Motivational Stress Balls for Adults and Kids – Hand Exercise Balls Grip Strengthener Hand Therapy Ball – Squishy Stress Balls
It is a very useful motivational stress ball set for individuals with autism and ADHD especially. There are positive affirmations written on these balls to boost their mood while keeping them relieved and stress-free. They are especially helpful during anxious times. You need to squeeze these balls as hard as you can to give you energy. They are made of high-quality material which makes them long-lasting. They are highly recommended by individuals with ADHD and autism because of the fact that they help their minds multitask and focus. They can even let them work while increasing their focus and attention. Amazon.com: Elibia Set of 3 Motivational Stress Balls for Adults and Kids – Hand Exercise Balls Grip Strengthener Hand Therapy Ball – Squishy Stress Balls for Adults Anxiety Stress Relief Toys for Teens: Toys & Games
Spinners by IN Global Inc, Spinners Plastic Finger Toy Stress Reducer Fidget Spinner, Black
It is a great sensory toy, especially for this very affordable price. Individuals with autism can easily manage their emotions during meltdowns with this little toy. It has a kind of trigger effect to make them calm. It is very useful in stressful environments while keeping their hands busy and distracting them. Since it is a perfect tool for individuals with ADHD and autism, it is good for people who want to break their bad habits or be in stressful environments. It has a simple and compact design to carry everywhere easily in the packet. Spinners Plastic Finger Toy Stress Reducer Fidget Spinner, Black (amazon.com)
Nezyo 84 Pieces Sensory Stickers Calm Stickers for Anxiety Textured Sensory Adhesive Strips Anxiety Strips Adhesive Tape Strips Tactile Rough Sensory Strips
It is a clever and perfectly designed set for people who need fidget toys without noticing and getting attention. They are basically stickers with different textures that you can carry everywhere with you. There are 84 pieces with 12 different structures and designs. They are all beautifully designed. They can be rubbed, scraped, or scratched according to a person’s need. They provide both tactile and visual input for those people. They can keep you busy during anxious and stressful times in terms of helping your stress and anxiety level decrease. They are made of high-quality, wear-resistant, and waterproof material to be used for a long time. Thanks to their sticky surface, they can be stuck in each place easily such as phones, laptops, books, tables, etc. They are very convenient and highly recommended at a reasonable price. 84 Pcs Sensory Stickers Calm Stickers for Anxiety Textured Sensory Adhesive Strips Anxiety Strips Adhesive Tape Strips Tactile Rough Sensory Strips for Adult Teens Office (Gradient Style) (amazon.com)
Stashables Sensory Fidget Toys Pack – 35 Pieces Stress Relief and Anti-Anxiety Toys for Kids – Cool Fidget Packs
It is an amazing starter if your child just got diagnosed with autism or ADHD and you do not know where to start. There are 35 different sensory toys in it to let your children discover which one works best for them or what kind of sensory input they need. This set provides a diverse range of fidgeting toys to experiment with. These toys are a rainbow ball, a speed cube, a square ball maze, a t-rex squish ball, a fidget controller, a grape ball, a multi-color stress ball, a stress ball with spikes, a bean, squishy animals, a snap snake, stretchy strings, mini spike balls, kinetic sand packets, stretch man, pop tube, frog slinger, a packet of water beads, and snake cube. They are all designed to reduce stress and anxiety. It is a highly recommended set by therapists and parents. Amazon.com: Sensory Fidget Toys Pack – 35pcs Stress Relief and Anti Anxiety Toys for Kids – Cool Fidget Packs with Stress Balls, Fidget Cube, & More for Party Favors, Prizes, Travel, & Pinata Stuffers: Toys & Games
Zen Laboratory Store 50 Pieces Fidget Toys Pack Figette Party Favors
If you have a child who is obsessed with fidgets, this set is exactly what you need. There are perfect and cool fidgeting toys in it for children with autism and ADHD. These toys also can be used for therapeutic reasons. They give them a sense of security, calmness, and relaxation. While keeping their hands busy and occupying their minds, they decrease their anxiety and stress. They can be used in any environment since they do not make any noise. It might be the biggest set of fidgeting toys with the high number of toys you can find on the market. There are 50 fidgeting toys in it with different shapes and structures. You do not need to buy anything else as a fidget toy when you purchase this set. It is a great investment with an affordable price and is highly recommended by users. (50 Pcs) Fidget Toys Pack Figette Party Favors Valentines Day Gifts for Kids Adults, Autism Sensory Toy Classroom Prizes Autistic Children Pop Its Bulk Fidgets, Treasure Box Girls Goodie Bag Stress (amazon.com)