Whether you are a parent of an autistic child, a grandparent, close family member, friend or professional, selecting toys for autistic children can be a sort of guessing game. One of the most important things to understand is you never know what will catch their attention and what they might never play with. Do not despair; here are a few hints to help you in the future.
Watch the child play. What are the areas of interest and what toys seem to stimulate their senses? Finding toys for autistic children present challenges that usually are not of concern for a non autistic child. Also keep in mind that autistic children usually do not share toys. A new toy that they will enjoy as well as help with their development and coping needs is somewhat of an added bonus.
When selecting toys for autistic children, find toys that which will stimulate their senses. One idea is a touch and feel book with different textures for them to feel. There are the auditory books that make different musical instrument sounds. Toys are wonderful aids to expose sensations in a relaxed non-threatening experience. Musical toys that do not upset a child with Sensory Integration Disorder can be a big hit. New items with texture, grooves, and raised areas, soft, smooth, furry, and bumpy may add to their discovery of what is most pleasing. Blocks with details that are carved into the wood are of interest.
Selecting toys for autistic children that assist in the development of their motor skills is not much different than for other children. While fingerpainting may cause discomfort, as autistic children do not like to get anything on their bodies, you can use brushes for them. They also will need to learn balance, and riding a tricycle or bike will help, but understand that if they decline the experience this is something that may never happen and that is okay. Maybe they are fascinated with how things work. A toy that has an assortment of latches, hooks, sliding door chains, a zipper, and fasteners might be just the toy to help with the fine motor skills they need.
Keep in mind the level of autism for the child you are selecting a toy for. The complexity or the simplicity of the toy will depend on their functioning level, or a simple on-off push button and open-and-close toys may be best. For high functioning autism or Asperger’s children a discovery toy is excellent, if it is in their area of interest or passion. Asperger’s children may be delighted to receive an encyclopedia in their passion interest.
Board games teach all children that we must cooperate and that we all cannot win. It isn’t necessary to win to have fun. Autism children are no different than others in that they need to develop coping skills as well. Keep in mind that when playing with children with autism their frustration may be very intense.
Children with autism love to spin. Spinning toys will be the toy of choice to an autistic child and it will be a meltdown time to remove the child from the spinning toy. While it is a welcome toy, it also means that other toys with needed benefits will not be played with to help in their development.
When you are selecting toys for autistic children, choose quality over quantity. Too many toys could cause apprehension and frustration. Select a good quality toy that will withstand the treatment of a child at play.
When in doubt what toys for autistic children to buy, ask the parents or take the child with you to shop. They will get to share some really special time with you and make a few interesting discoveries along the way. It is very rewarding to see these children light up when something catches their attention.
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