The 15 best educational toys for autistic children 2024

Autism often coexists with sensory challenges, a facet recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, which included sensory sensitivities in the diagnostic criteria for autism in 2013. If your child grapples with sensory issues, considering the introduction of sensory toys for autism into their playtime might be beneficial.

Sensory toys are specifically crafted to engage a child’s five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. These toys incorporate features such as vibrant and contrasting colors, various sounds, or diverse textures. The primary purpose of these toys is to assist children in the development of their senses within a safe and natural play environment.

Understanding Sensory Issues:

Two main types of sensory issues can impact a child with autism—hyper-sensitivities and hypo-sensitivities. Both types influence how the child processes and responds to different stimuli. As outlined by Autism Speaks, these sensitivities encompass, but are not limited to:

  • Sights
  • Sounds
  • Smells
  • Tastes
  • Touch
  • Balance
  • Body Awareness
  • Hyper-Sensitive Children:

Children with hypersensitivity exhibit heightened responsiveness to stimuli, often referred to as “sensory overload.” Both routine and intense stimuli, such as bright lights or strong smells, can overwhelm hyper-sensitive children, leading to a sense of distress. While autistic toys can contribute to managing sensory hypersensitivity, they should not be considered a sole solution. To provide comprehensive support, parents should collaborate with occupational therapists or professionals to tailor strategies that address their child’s specific hypersensitivities effectively.

>>> Learning aids for kids with autism with Rearna

Hypo-Sensitive Children:

In contrast to hyper-sensitivity, some children with autism exhibit hypo-sensitivity, showing reduced responsiveness to sensory input. An instance of this is a diminished sensitivity to pain. Children with hypo-sensitivity may also display reduced responsiveness to bodily signals affecting balance control and physical coordination. Accommodations for hypo-sensitive children can include the use of weighted blankets, incorporation of strong-tasting or textured foods, and engagement in activities that enhance physical skills like dancing, jumping, running, and catching.

How Sensory Toys Aid Autism:

Sensory toys play a crucial role in helping children with autism relax, focus, and manage their response to various scenarios or events. They enable children to interact with objects with decreased fear and discomfort, facilitating a more natural and enjoyable play experience. Additionally, sensory toys contribute to the development of social learning skills, including negotiation, planning, and sharing.

Utilizing Sensory Toys for Autism:

The utilization of sensory toys to assist children with autism is becoming increasingly prevalent. A variety of sensory toys tailored to different senses are available to engage children in enjoyable sensory experiences. While sensory toys contribute to improved focus, relaxation, and calming effects, it’s important to note that they do not replace formal, evidence-based treatments for autism spectrum disorders. Ultimately, sensory toys serve as tools to help children explore and understand their senses in a enjoyable and educational manner. Through play, children with autism can gain a better grasp of their sensory experiences and learn effective ways to manage them.

>>> Autism-friendly educational toys and their impact

The 15 Best Educational toys for autistic children

Discover autism sensory toys and gifts both online and in various retail outlets. If you’re seeking recommendations for the most effective sensory toys for autism, consider the following options:

#1. Sensory Mats:

Engage children with autism through a set of sensory mats, each featuring distinct textures. These compact mats encourage tactile exploration as children use their hands or feet to experience the diverse textures. To enhance the sensory experience, have your child close their eyes and describe the sensations as they navigate through the different mats.

#.2. Chew Toys:

While chew toys are commonly associated with infants during teething, they also serve a valuable purpose for children with autism. Crafted from non-toxic silicone, these chew toys come in handheld forms or can be worn as jewelry around the neck or wrist. Available in various textures, including dots, ridges, patterns, or smooth surfaces, chew toys aid in developing biting and chewing skills while providing essential sensory stimulation.

#3. Sand, Slime, or Putty:

Foster fine motor skill development and sensory engagement with substances like sand, slime, or putty. These versatile materials offer children the opportunity to play independently or incorporate other objects into their play. The vibrant colors of these substances appeal to visual senses, creating an enriching sensory experience for your child.

>>> Developmental toys for autistic toddlers

#4. Pin Art:

Pin artboards offer an engaging sensory experience for kids and teens with autism. Featuring steel pins, these toys enable children to create and observe imprints in the pins using their hands, fingers, or other objects and toys. The distinctive tactile sensation of the pins against the artboard makes it an excellent, mess-free sensory toy suitable for toddlers and teens with autism.

#5. Rainmaker Toys:

For auditory stimulation, consider introducing a rainmaker to a child with autism. This enjoyable toy not only makes a thoughtful gift but also aids in relaxation as the child listens to the soothing sounds of simulated rain. The vibrant colors and the falling cascade of beads provide an additional sensory dimension, allowing the child to engage multiple senses simultaneously without overwhelming stimuli.

#6. Fidget Spinners:

Fidget spinners, once a popular craze, are beneficial tools for helping children, including those with autism, maintain focus by occupying their hands. These spinners are not only effective for children with autism but also for those with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The smooth and rapid rotation of the spinners is enjoyable for many children, and the variety of available designs ensures you can find one that your child will love.

#7. Electric Dog Pet:

Acknowledging the sensory challenges faced by children with autism, an Electronic Pet Dog Interactive Puppy offers a unique solution. Research suggests that exposure to sounds from household appliances and pet noises can help desensitize children with autism to auditory stimuli. The Electronic Pet Dog responds to a child’s touch, providing cues that may contribute to the auditory processing and social interaction development as the child becomes more accustomed to the toy. Ongoing research explores the potential benefits of interactive robot toys for children with autism.

#8. Senseez Vibrating Cushion:

Experience the soothing effects of the Senseez Vibrating Cushion, designed to calm your child through its gentle motion and tranquil sound. Recent studies have highlighted the positive impact of vibrating sensory toys on enhancing verbal initiations and responses in children, encouraging them to participate more in social interactions.

#9. Body Sox:

Engage your child with the interactive Body Sox, a toy that invites them to immerse themselves in a colorful, transparent, and breathable lycra sock. Recognizing the calming effect of pressure on children with autism, this unique toy facilitates anxiety relief and promotes relaxation.

#10. Reflective Balls:

Foster visual development in children with autism through sensory reflective balls. Studies indicate that children with ADHD and autism may face challenges in processing visual sensory information. Introducing these reflective balls provides a valuable solution to support your child in developing their visual senses effectively.

Understanding that each child with autism experiences unique challenges and exhibits different symptoms underscores the importance of choosing toys aligned with special education methods. Game therapy, particularly in the early years of a child’s life, emerges as a crucial approach to supporting gross motor skills and aiding in their understanding of the world. Opting for educational toys tailored to address sensory issues in autistic kids holds significant importance in the realm of special education.

#11. Autism Training Toys

Choosing toys for children with autism involves considering their unique sensory integration needs. While each child may have distinct needs and expectations, incorporating sensory toys into activities is crucial for teaching both fine and gross motor skills. This inclusion not only facilitates imaginative play but also captures the attention of children with autism.

The primary objective is to guide children towards playing games with toys instead of relying on self-motivated behaviors often observed in those with autism. Therefore, selecting toys that diminish self-motivating tendencies becomes essential. When choosing educational autism toys, consider the following factors:

#12. Visual Supports:

Children with autism often focus on rotating objects, are drawn to bright colors, and may engage in hand movements in front of their eyes. To address the need for visual stimulation, opt for autism toys such as lamps, flashlights, sandglasses, wheels, light bars, magnetic balls, fidget toys, sound puzzles, writing boards, light guns, and binoculars.

#13. Auditory Processing:

Children with autism may vocalize or mutter while singing songs and enjoy making sounds by snapping their tongues or clicking their fingers. Select autism toys that produce sound to support auditory processing, including sound puzzles, bells, whistles, radios, talking toys, vehicle sound toys, animal sound toys, music boxes, and piano-style toys.

#14. Tactile Stimulation:

Children with autism may exhibit a preference for caressing their bodies or pinching themselves. Choose motor toys such as fish hooks, puppets with movable parts, and flutes to decrease motor delays and provide tactile stimulation.

#15. Body Stimulation:

Children with autism often adopt unique body postures, such as walking on toes or bending their heads. To enhance fine and gross motor skills, suitable autism toys include horses, farm animals, wagons, swings, and hammocks.

Educational autism toys and games play a vital role in supporting children with sensory issues. Otsimo, specifically designed to meet the sensory needs of children, effectively teaches fundamental life skills through educational toys and games. The app is available for free download on both phones and tablets, enabling continuous sensory integration and fine motor skill development at home.