Encourage learning and interaction among children with autism with our list of the best toys for autistic children. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder learn well through play (1). When they play with these toys, their sensory-motor skills develop along with their language, problem-solving, and social interaction skills. With various designs and features, these toys are fun to play with and aid the children’s overall development. Since children with ASD may struggle to play with some toys, we have handpicked a few great ones that they can interact and engage with easily. So, read on to find one that best suits your child’s needs.
Sensory Toys For Children With Autism
Some toys provide a sensory experience that children with ASD crave. The toys allow the children to engage their sense of touch, hearing, and vision. Also, integrating sensory therapy via play can help improve an autistic child’s daily functioning
1. Best Focus-Enhancing Toy: Adorox Liquid Bubble Drop Motion Wheel
The Adorox Liquid Bubble Drop is a beautiful desk toy that doubles as a visual stimulant for children with special needs. Children with autism spectrum disorder tend to look at lights or moving dots or objects to stay focused. This desk toy can help the child calm down and focus on one thing.
- No heat danger
- Helps relieve stress
- Lightweight and portable
- May be smaller than expected
- May leak over time
2. Best Stress-Relieving Toy For Autism: 12-Sided Fidget Cube
When the child is stressed and does not have a parent or teacher to calm him down, a fidget toy might come in handy. The ATiC 12-sided fidget cube can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and relax children with ADHD and autism. This toy is a must-have when your child goes out on long drives or outings and needs something to keep them occupied and relaxed.
- Includes smiley minion faces, sliding blocks, soft buttons, silicone ball, a joystick that moves 360 degrees, etc.
- Made from high-quality and non-toxic polycarbonate
- Safe, durable, and child-friendly
- Small and lightweight enough to carry in pocket
- Might be slightly smaller than expected
- Some might find it slightly loud
3. Best Oral Sensory Toy: Atsky Sensory Chew Necklaces
The chew necklaces by Atsky are made of food-grade silicone for optimal safety. They have satin nylon cords that are skin-friendly and don’t irritate or get tangled in the hair. These necklaces help relieve your child’s anxiety, improve concentration, and reduce fidgeting. They are soft and easy on the gums and teeth due to their medium firmness. You can easily clean these necklaces in the dishwasher or with mild soap.
- Easy-to-shorten cords
- Free of latex, PVC, phthalates, and BPA
- Suitable for children with ADHD, SPD, and special needs
- May be smaller than you expect
- May not be suitable for aggressive chewers
4. Best Toy For Auditory Senses: Vehicle Sound Blocks
The Vehicle Sound Blocks by Melissa & Doug is a simple puzzle that engages the child’s auditory senses. It features six different vehicles, and all that the children have to do is match the blocks to hear the sound of that vehicle. Vehicle sound blocks improve visual perception, fine motor skills, and coordination. Watch this video to get a detailed review of the product.
- Easy to play with
- Teaches picture association and identifying vehicle sounds
- Comes with six sides featuring a boat, plane, train, motorcycle, fire engine, and ambulance
- Sounds are realistic and engaging
- Batteries are not included
- Might have a slight sound delay
Puzzles For Children With Autism
Children with autism enjoy solving puzzles. In fact, they have a knack for solving puzzles! Puzzles are fun and can be used to teach the kids anything with ease. Our list of puzzles includes sound puzzles, peg and knob puzzles, sensory foam puzzles and more.
5. Best Animal-Themed Puzzle For Autism: Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle
The puzzle helps engage the child’s auditory senses. This wooden peg sound puzzle features eight pegs that your child has to set in the appropriate gaps. If the child places the animal puzzle piece correctly, a happy farm animal sounds its voice. This sound puzzle is interactive and focuses on identifying and matching colors and shapes.
- Bright colors
- Handcrafted design
- Encourages hands-on, screen-free play
- Trigger might only be activated by very bright light
- Does not include batteries
6. Best Educational Toy For Autism: See & Spell Learning Toy
The toy focuses not just on the pictorial representation of the words, but also on the language part. The See and Spell Learning toy by Melissa and Doug is a simple puzzle that also doubles up as a basic educational toy that teaches spelling to the child. The puzzle helps improve sight-reading, language skills, and fine motor skills.
- Comes with over 50 pieces of English letters and eight two-sided boards
- Helps teach the spellings of four-letter words
- Colorful letters and boards make the toy appealing and engaging
- Can be a helpful addition to classrooms for children with special needs
- Lack of lid might lead to misplaced pieces
- Edges of the toy might be slightly rough
7. Best Building Blocks For Autism: Edushape Easy-Grip Soft Foam Sensory Puzzle Blocks
Edushape Soft Foam Puzzle Blocks engage the child’s sense of touch to teach them about shapes, colors, and texture. The differently shaped foam blocks in bright colors are eye-catching and are designed especially for children with special needs. The block puzzle helps improve the child’s spatial, logical and reasoning skills.
- Soft foam construction makes it safe and easy to use
- Lightweight blocks have a dotted texture to stimulate the sense of touch
- Boosts imagination and visual sensory development
- No splinters, bumps, and sharp edges
- Magnets might not be strong
- Might be smaller than expected
8. Best Two-In-One Toy For Autism: Anlabay 2-In-1 Pop Blocks Jigsaw Puzzle
The two-in-one bubble fidget toy is a combination of pop games and building blocks. It is a great toy to keep your child engaged in a fun, creative way and help them think and strategize. The toy pieces can also help children identify colors and shapes, develop their logical thinking, and enhance their motor skills.
- Comes in a pack of 48 pieces that can be put together to form different shapes
- Pressing the mouse bubbles helps create a popping sound to relieve stress, especially for children with ADD, ADHD, or OCD
- High-quality, durable, and non-toxic
- Washable and reusable
- Easy to carry and don’t require much space
- Might not be true to size
Physical Activity Toys For Children With Autism
Children with autism spectrum disorder need more than just mind games. The toys listed here can help the children develop their gross motor skills and physical coordination.
9. Best Toy For Physical Coordination: Gonge Riverstones
Gonge has a range of exciting toys for young children. The Gonge Riverstones is one of the series of toys that can help the child’s physical coordination. The stones, made from durable materials and a changeable layout, vary in size and thickness. They are ideal for individuals and groups, not to mention designed for ease of use and storage through stacking.
- Includes six Gonge stones made of non-toxic material
- Can be used on hard surfaces, indoors or outdoors.
- Children can move from one stone to another without touching the floor.
- Children can learn to judge the distance, steepness, and timing of movement, and jump and balance confidently.
- Material might be slightly slippery
- May not be easy to clean
10. Best Balancing Toy For Autism: Alex Toys Active Play Monkey Balance Board
The board helps the kids maintain balance and stay steady on their feet. Not to mention, the monkey balance board promises endless hours of fun. Once ready, the child has to stand on the board with each foot on either side of the platform and try to balance by shifting their weight to the left and the right. The aim is not just to swing left and right, but to try and adjust the board on its center, with both the sides of the platform above the ground. It comes with a colorful platform with the image of a smiling monkey on it.
- Easy assembly
- Designed with the safety of children in mind
- Suitable for children between three and seven.
- Helps improve physical coordination
- Might not be challenging enough for older children
- Edges might scratch the floors
11. Best Versatile Toy For Austism: Moluk Bilibo
At first glance, the Moluk Bilibo looks deceptively simple, like a military helmet. But it is so much more than just a shell-shaped toy. Made of non-toxic polyethylene material, the Bilibo is light in weight and has multiple uses. The toy encourages open-ended imaginative play, inspiring and encouraging the child to try new ways to use it! It is shatterproof and can be used indoors or outdoors.
- Becomes a rocking seat when placed on the floor on its curved side
- Acts as a protective shell when placed upside down on the child’s back
- Available in eight colors and has multiple uses.
- Can work as a revolving seat for sliding in the snow, a bowl for toys, a helmet, a float in the swimming pool, or as a stepping stone on sand or snow.
- Might not be as engaging for some kids
12. Best Physical Therapy Toy For Autism: Space Hopper Ball
Space hoppers are inflated physical therapy balls that the children can sit on and jump around in the room. Not only do they help in strengthening the core muscles of the child, but also improve the child’s ability to balance. The hoppers are a fun way to exercise the body and are also used by adults.
- Comes with a handle on top, ensuring a solid grip to keep the child from falling off.
- Made of an eco-friendly material free of any toxic substances.
- Helps in balance training and vestibular orientation.
- Includes a two-way hand pump
- Might be slightly big for younger children
- Not available in other colors
Educational Toys For Children With Autism
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty in focusing, understanding and learning like other kids do (3). They tend to have difficulty learning necessary skills that the other children learn with ease. In this section, we have listed a few toys that can teach them a few basic skills and some more in a fun and exciting way.
13. Best Toy For Fine Motor Skills: Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board
The Basic Skills Board by Melissa and Doug is one of the best toys for children with autism. Designed to be an educational toy, the board lets children practice simple dressing skills like tying the shoes, buttoning the shirt and buckling up a bag. The board features an image of a happy bear with all the necessary items such as lace, belts, buttons and a zipper. It can be a great addition to the collection of toys of children with ASD.
- Six-piece puzzle board for children aged three or more
- Helps improve a child’s fine motor skills
- Each wooden puzzle piece has a tool like a zipper, shoelace, belt with buckle, clasp, and buttons.
- Made of high-quality wood and is durable
- Can use it in school or a classroom.
- Might not be suited to smaller children
- May only hold attention for short bursts of time
14. Best For Communication Skills: Childswork/Childsplay The Coping Skills Game
Children with autism might often find it challenging to express their emotions and communicate with others. The Coping Skills Game is designed to help children develop the essential skills for emotional self-care. It teaches nine essential coping skills and is designed to help children calm down, handle their frustration, feel more confident, and verbalize their needs.
- Suitable for two to four players
- Suitable for children between seven and 12 years
- Easy to remember
- Can work for small counseling sessions
- Examples may be longer than expected
- Board may seem flimsy
15. Best Interactive Flash Cards: Early Flash Cards
Flashcards can be useful when your child has difficulty remembering what he or she has learned at school. The Early Flash Cards set helps the child learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, phonics and simple words. Ideal for children aged four to eight, these flashcards reinforce what the child has already learned at school. The colorful pictures on the flashcards make them appealing to children. While this is not technically a toy, learning with flashcards can be as fun as other toys.
- Divided by tabs for easy organization
- Help children succeed in academics and boosts their confidence
- Includes resource cards with game and activity ideas
- Helps develop various essential skills
- Might be slightly cumbersome to take out of the box
- Some may find the set repetitive in certain subjects
Besides the toys mentioned above, you could also look at other toys such as Tangle Jr. fidget, squeeze toys for stress relief, sand panels, cool night lights, vibrating pillows and rolls, and other toys that engage the child’s senses while teaching him a thing or two. But no matter how many toys you buy, you may not get the desired results if they are not appropriate for your child.
Next, we have a few tips on how to choose the right toys for autistic children.
Tips For Buying Toys For Children With Autism
When it comes to buying something for children, we are seldom hasty. We tend to gauge the usefulness the toy, the durability, the safety and the cost. And when it comes to buying something for a child with special needs, we may end up overthinking our shopping. Well, there is no need for that. Here is all you need to remember when buying toys for a child with autism.
- The child’s needs and interests are the two most important things you need to remember when you look for toys. Just like any other kid, a child with special needs also has likes and dislike. Being thoughtful about them can help you a great deal in choosing that right gift.
- Ask the question, “Will my child be able to play with that?” or “How simple or difficult is it to play with that toy?” Keeping in mind the child’s cognitive levels will ensure that the toy you buy will be put to good use.
- If you are buying a gift for someone else’s kid, just ask the parents what the kid would like.
- Check online for reviews of a particular toy or game before you buy it. Better yet, just buy it online. Many online shopping websites cater to the needs of autistic individuals. From sensory toys to educational kits, your options online are many. Also, you get some of the best bargains when you shop online.
- Remember that not all toys are for everyone. Keep in mind the child’s age, interests, ability to comprehend and their skills before investing in a toy. If there is a specific skill that you want the child to improve, look for toys that aid in that.
- Select quality over quantity. Children often end up playing with just one or two toys they like the most, even when they have a box full of them lying next to them. So, it should not be about getting more toys, but about getting the right toys.
How We Selected The Best Toys For Children With Autism
We have tried to be thoughtful while choosing this list of toys for children with autism. Considering their needs and learning requirements, we have selected the toys that are engaging, stimulating, and child-friendly. These toys will help your child learn valuable skills and reach their developmental milestones. The products in our list are non-toxic and made of high-quality materials to ensure your child’s safety. Moreover, we have considered the reviews of real buyers to provide you an unbiased opinion and to help you choose the right toy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the best types of toys for kids with autism?
Children with autism like playing with fidgets, stuffed animals, and putty. Such toys help them keep calm and engaged.
2. What types of toys should children with autism not play with?
Avoid toys that include art and craft, as they can be tough to play with. Toys like slime, noisy toys, and toys with bright flashing lights are not ideal for children with autism.
3. Are sensory toys good for autism?
Sensory toys help children with anxiety, motor skills, and social interaction. These toys also keep them calm and relieve stress.
Children with autism can immensely benefit from toys specially designed to help develop their motor and problem-solving skills. These toys help engage them through play and aid in their overall development. When picking the best toys for children with autism, ensure they are of the right size and shape, suit their age group, and can benefit them. Further, considering the child’s cognitive levels, interests, needs, and wants can help you pick one. Finally, choose a colorful and portable toy to encourage your little one to interact with it everywhere.
- Sensory issues
- FDA: Teething necklaces can lead to choking, strangulation