Are you looking for some Cool Toys for Kids with Autism? Well, we’ve put together this extensive gift guide for children with autism.
Shopping for any child can pose a challenge when you’re unsure what their interests are. Shopping for a child with special needs is particularly challenging. Toys for kids with autism can be quite beneficial when it’s something that suits their needs and are often used in therapy.
Intro | Cool Toys for Kids with Autism
Children on the autism spectrum have unique personalities and specific needs towards their development and progress. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is generally characterized as a condition that affects social and behavioral development. It affects approximately 1 in 59 children in the U.S. and one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities according to the CDC. There are various subtypes of autism which can range between high-functioning to nonverbal communication among individuals. Just as no two children are alike, those with special needs learn and develop in different ways.
For autistic children as well as those with social communication challenges, a common problem is interacting and connecting with others. Therapy often plays a vital role in a child’s development to helping them reach goals and meet specific needs. Many therapists who treat and assist children with special needs use toys as fundamental tools to helping them in critical areas where improvement is needed.
Sensory Play Toys
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Children with ASD often experience sensory issues as well. This can mean aversions or sensitivity to certain sounds or other responses. Engaging in play with sensory toys for kids with autism offers an ideal opportunity to help develop fine motor skills, adaptive behavior, cognitive development, as well as build communication and language skills.
Sand is a popular tactile material used for providing a calming activity for children with ASD while engaging sensory building skills. This kinetic play sand is designed to stick together without sticking to you for a material that is easy to form and construct with and won’t create a mess. The set comes with 6 molds for children to build pyramids, castles or use their own imagination. The sand doesn’t dry out, although it has a ‘wet’ consistency to form and mold with while holding its shape and can be used over and over again. The non-toxic material is completely safe for children to work with.
This activity cube boasts bright colorful pieces on each panel. There are 21 beads strung on winding tracks on the top panel that can be pulled and pushed along. The various-shaped beads can be helpful for shape recognition and the spinning pieces are great for promoting fine motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination. One side features gears that interlock and spin. On another side you’ll find spinning pieces with each letter of the alphabet for promoting letter recognition. An abacus is also featured on one of the panels.
Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center
The colors and hands-on activities featured in this activity center are enough to keep any child engaged for hours on end. The Tree Top Adventure Activity Center offers various elements that engage multiple senses with tactile elements as well as visuals and problem solving skills. Various shaped beads are strung on bending wires for little hands to grasp and run along the wires, improving fine motor skill development. There are 4 quadrants featured in the treetop activity center in vibrant colors. Each side features characters in a 3D element that can inspire imagination and stimulate pretend play.
The Noodley Children LED Finger Light Gloves
These multicolored light up gloves provide a great visual stimulating activity for children with ASD. They feature 6 different light up modes in red, green, and blue. A button on each glove lets the wearer alternate modes from solid to flashing and various patterns. The child size gloves are made to fit 5-9 year olds. In addition to providing children with a visually stimulating activity, the gloves can also offer safe visibility for parents with their children in crowded places or at night time events. They’re made of a lightweight cotton/polyester blend breathable material for optimal comfort.
Tomy International — Hide N Squeak Eggs
This egg box opens up to reveal 6 eggs that have a surprise hidden inside. It’s a matching game for preschoolers with unique shapes under the base of each egg to fit into its own space. The eggs ‘crack’ open to reveal colorful chicks in each one. They’re shaped for little hands to easily grasp and encourage manual dexterity. The birds make a chirp sound when lightly pushed down while inside the egg. The chirp sound isn’t loud or overly obnoxious and no batteries are required. The chicks are colored to match the faces on the eggs for a color-matching game and also provide a great opportunity for facial expression recognition.
Learning Resources — Gator Grabber Tweezers
The pincer grasp is an important fine motor skill to achieve for writing purposes as well as performing other various small tasks. This set of alligator tweezers comes with 12 tweezers in an assortment of colors. Children can use the grabbers for picking up small objects or even food. These are specifically designed with a unique size for little hands to grasp comfortably and maintain control to effectively pick up objects. The grabbers come in a convenient storage container with a lid when not in use.
LeapFrog — Spin & Sing Alphabet Zoo
This is a fun learning toy for infants and toddlers that respond well to sound and lights. It has features to promote motor skills with functions to push, spin and slide. There are 3 modes of learning activities featured to aid in learning the alphabet, identifying various animal sounds and names of animals. The interactive spin and sing alphabet zoo invites young learners to engage in the activities by rewarding touch with music and lights. It can serve as a useful tool in promoting vocabulary and language skills as well.
Inflatable PeaPod Junior, 48 Inches
For someone with autism tools or devices designed to provide even pressure around the body, similarly to a hug, can provide a calming element when needed. The PeaPod Junior is designed to offer a calming space with inflatable sides that provide a ‘cocooning’ effect ideal for children from Pre-K up to 1st grade. Once inside, children can rock themselves from side-to-side for self soothing. It has a newly improved design for added durability and features a soft, velvety texture and handles for gripping. The puncture-resistant vinyl is very durable, but care should still be exercised to prevent puncturing. The peapod is not made for jumping or bouncing on.
The Nintendo Switch takes the home video game console on the go so kids can take their gaming with them. It’s a gaming console that can be connected to the TV when it’s stationed in the dock for at-home play and transitions into a handheld gaming console with a display screen. Video or digital gaming is often very appealing to children with special needs as it hones in on teaching them how to play, and in turn, learning. It can also provide a great tool for encouraging social skills through multiplayer games. The Nintendo Switch is a great choice providing a console that is easy to grasp and control. It requires fine motor skills to use the controller providing optimal practice for improving those skills.
The two controllers allow play with multiple players so the family can take part in the fun. It also encourages a joint interest for children with autism to non-autistic children. A really great feature with this particular gaming console are the parental controls. Parents can set time limits which can be really important for children that are prone to becoming overly engaged in one activity. Additional features allow parents to set restrictions on content and features, providing a customized gaming system that parents and children will enjoy.
LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition
This is an android-based tablet for kids that offers learning content to help improve a child’s critical and creative thinking, problem solving skills, and much more. The home screen can be customized encouraging the user’s self-expression. The learning content is pre-loaded onto the tablet so there’s no buying games or discs and it grows with your child’s progress. It comes safe to use for kids right out of the box and parents can add their own websites to the device for learning or school. It comes with a free trial of the learning program which you will have to choose a subscription plan once it’s complete (90 days) to continue playing. Parents can set up time-limit frames for each child. It also comes with a removable bumper and shatter-proof screen for durability.
Pretend Play Toys
Initiating pretend play allows children to develop critical skills. For children on the autism spectrum playing pretend at an early age has been shown to significantly improve or boost language skills later on. Play sets and pretend toys such as these featured below are excellent toys for kids with autism to encourage thinking along with problem-solving skills.
This play kitchen provides many realistic features of a real kitchen for an engaging pretend play experience. The play stove features burner lights and makes realistic cooking sounds along with knobs that click and an oven that doubles as storage space. Features like hooks and shelves provide a space for utensils and accessories. There’s even a recycling bin included with this set. There are 25 accessories to promote interactive play with utensils, bowls, and pots and pans. This play kitchen is subtle in color with very minimal bright colors and relatively simple in features without the ‘bells and whistles’ of fancier kitchen play sets. This is especially ideal for children that may have heightened sensitivity to contrasting colors and noises.
Learning Resources — Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set
If you have a little chef that loves to pretend cooking up dishes, this farmer’s market set would make an excellent addition to the above kitchen playset or simply by itself. The 30-piece set features 25 pretend play foods of fruits and veggies assorted by 5 different colors. Baskets and color coordinating labels are included that can be helpful in encouraging color recognition as well as engaging sorting skills.
Melissa & Doug — Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter
Scoop up some sweet treats with this cute scoop and serve ice cream counter set. The Melissa & Doug wooden set comes with an ice cream counter, eight different ice cream scoops, 6 toppings that can connect atop of each other, 2 cones, an ice cream cup, a small wooden spoon, tongs, pretend dollar bills, an ice cream scooper, and a ‘menu’ order. The reusable menu card lets ‘customers’ order up their favorite scoops to be dished up or scooped into a cone with numerous combination possibilities. The scooper works just like a real scoop with a feature to pick up scoops and transfer into the cone or cup with the release button, promoting fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Melissa & Doug — Fold and Go Wooden Barn With 7 Animal
Encourage imagination and creative play with this wooden barn set. The barn is a fun and inviting toy for the little farmer who is passionate about farm animals. It comes with a barn that opens up for access to house the 7 plastic animals included into the individual stalls. Other accessories include a wooden toy ladder and a folding corral. Sliding doors featured in the barn help promote fine motor skills while providing an entrance for animals to enter in and out of the barn during pretend play. The barn can also be closed up and store the animals and accessories when not in use and features 2 sturdy handles for easy handling.
A playhouse much like this one can be a helpful and fun way for kids with spatial awareness difficulties to adapt and improve their capabilities. It can also serve as a soothing space to help autistic children feel calm, especially when interacting with other children. There are many features included in this sweetheart playhouse to encourage social skills. The playhouse features a door that opens and closes, functioning shutters, and a tabletop the doubles as a pretend grill when flipped over. Inside the playhouse is an electronic phone and a clock with hands that can be moved providing a learning opportunity to tell time. The interior is roomy enough to accommodate two children or even a parent.
Learning Resources — Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register
Children often learn through imitation of what they see around them. A trip to the grocery store may not seem much like a learning opportunity, but for a child that notices small details others do not, it can provide a wealth of information. This pretend play calculator cash register offers a hands-on learning activity for children to gain early math skills along with the concept of value. It features a functioning solar-powered calculator with an LED display for actual computing. The drawer opens and makes a ‘cha ching’ sound similar to the real deal to instill money handling skills. It’s a great toy for parents or other children to help engage in role playing by making ‘transactions’ to promote communication and social skills as well.
V-Tech — Touch & Learn Activity Desk
This activity table offers versatility for learning and play. There are 5 activity pages featured in the table providing engaging content for learning and intellectual development. For an artistic concept, the table can transform into an easel with a chalkboard when you lift up the desktop. There’s a small storage area to keep art supplies and writing tools handy such as chalk. An electronic toy phone and a music player are incorporated to encourage child-initiated pretend play. The activity desk can be expanded with additional learning packs available in a wide curriculum range from math and science to language arts plus more. There is even a progress button that reports on your child’s progress level as they play.
Physical Activity Toys
ASD can also affect a child’s equilibrium as they’re often challenged with body awareness in space. Toys for kids autism that engage physical activity such as jumping, climbing, swinging or swaying are really beneficial to improving the vestibular system.
These stepping stones offer a cool and fun opportunity to improve balance and coordination in children. The set of 6 stones are designed to replicate real river stones with varying steepness on each side and different heights. The stones can be arranged to create challenging pathways with the object of stepping or jumping from one to the other without touching the floor. They feature rubberized grips on the base to prevent sliding while also protecting the integrity of floor surfaces. The stones are capable of withstanding up to 110 pounds. The set is composed of 3 small stones and 3 larger stones which can be stacked together for storing when not in use.
Little Tikes Jr. Jump ‘n Slide Bouncer
This bouncy house provides plenty of physical interaction from bouncing around to sliding on the wide built-in inflatable slide. The mesh netting surrounding the bouncer on 3 sides helps in providing an enclosure to keep kids safe while maintaining visibility for parents. It’s made of a puncture-resistant material for durability and built to accommodate up to 2 children. It comes with 4 anchors to keep the house secure when set up, repair patches, a heavy-duty blower and 2 blower stakes. The bouncer inflates within minutes and deflates to fold up easily for storage with a storage bag included.
It doesn’t look like much but you’d be surprised how engaging this simple toy can be to a child’s development. The Bilibo features an iconic shell shape that can be anything your child thinks up. The unique shape gives it a captivating appeal children will love while inspiring creativity and stimulating various senses. The Bilibo’s design can help in the development of balance and coordination with unlimited play possibilities. They can be used to rock or spin around in, sitting, worn as a helmet, hiding underneath, and so much more. The Bilibos are available in a wide range of colors.
Building toys and construction are often very appealing to children with ASD. Toys designed for building or being manipulated can be useful in helping children gain skills and imagination. Blocks, Legos, replica models and similar constructing toys are all great examples of toys for kids with autism that can engage other key areas of development children need to improve on.
LEGO Architecture — 21019 The Eiffel Tower
This advanced architecture building set consists of 321 pieces to build and construct a detailed replica of the Eiffel Tower. The structure can provide a nice visual representation as well as a learning opportunity about the actual structure for inquiring minds. The box lists interesting facts about the structure’s history. It measures a foot high by 4-inches wide once assembled. This set is designed for children 12 years and up.
LEGO Technic — Volvo Concept Wheel Loader
ZEUX 42081 Building Kit
Ignite their passion for moving vehicles and construction with this Volvo Concept Wheel Loader building kit. This building kit is complex and not ideal for individuals with difficulty in fine motor skills but can be really beneficial to encourage problem solving skills and requires focus and attention to detail. Once assembled it features a functioning boom and bucket, 4-wheel steering, and an adjustable counterbalance for play. The wheel loader can be rebuilt as a Hauler Pegax for a more challenging project. The kit also comes with a buildable mapping drone and stickers to provide realistic detail in the Volvo color scheme.
Engino Discovering STEM Structures Constructions & Bridges
The architectural designs and models in this kit provide a hands-on learning experience at how buildings and structures work. The set includes detailed instructions along with all the necessary components for building and assembling 9 different functioning models. The set is beneficial to work on maintaining focus in addition to gross motor skills to complete each project. An extractor tool is included to make separating the small parts easier. There is a theory and fact sheet also provided to demonstrate exactly how these structures work in real-world applications by introducing young engineers to various types of forces.
Choosing The Right Toy for A Child with Autism
Every child is unique in their own way and how they respond to things around them. If you’re searching for toys for kids with autism it’s always a good idea to first ask the parents for recommendations. They can provide helpful insight on ideas that may be suitable for their child as well as give feedback on a toy you might have in mind before you buy.