Toy shopping according to age, trends, and level of fun may work for other children but for kids with autism, a little more thought and time is required when selecting toys. Several factors need to be considered to ensure you end up with the appropriate toys. What is the child’s personality trait? What are the coping mechanisms of the child? Can the toy provide enjoyment to the child? Can the toy assist in development? Such concerns need to be addressed if you are toy shopping for an autistic child. If you do not know where to start, here is a guide to the best types of toy for children with autism. Read on and learn the key things to look for to ensure you end up with toys that are appealing, fun, and beneficial to your child.
When it comes to sensory stimulation, autistic kids fall into 2 distinct categories where some thoroughly enjoy sensory products while others have sensory difficulties. Whatever side your child falls in, sensory toys would make a great buy as they offer the benefit of being both a source of enjoyment as well as an excellent tool for introducing sensations in a low-key way that does not trigger outbursts.
Sensory toys come in a wide range of options with products for touch (blocks with raised lettering, numbers, or patterns), sound (musical toys), and sight (lava lamp toys) stimulation. There are also sensory toys that offer sensory information to muscles and joints (e.g. trampoline, vibration, and spinning toys). The key to giving your child the full sensory experience is to mix things up by buying different sensory toys. Also, make sure to avoid toys with sensory inputs your child dislikes.
Ability to Encourage Social Skills
One of the biggest challenges that autistic children face is impaired social skills. Oftentimes, this lack of social skills is a source of frustration whereby autistic kids get irritated when unable to interact with the wider world. This is why socially interactive toys such as board games, language development play sets, and cause-and-effect toys make a great play tool for children with autism. Such toys teach essential social skills such as cooperation, sustaining a conversation, and so on while also helping autistic kids develop good coping mechanisms when interacting with others.
Presence of Motor Skills Motivation
Another area where autistic kids struggle with is performing motor skills where precise movement of muscles is required to perform a specific task. Toys that promote motor skills can therefore help to improve the quality of life for a child with autism. With the presence of a ton of toys that motivate motor skills, it is advisable to shop according to your child’s motor skill impairment. For instance, options such as LEGOS, art & craft toys, and board games with small pieces would make an ideal toy for autistic kids who struggle with tasks that involve the use of hands and fingers. Alternatively, spin sits, trampolines, and bicycles are more suited for kids who have problems with postural stability and balance.
At the end of the day, toys are meant for fun. And since you know your child, best go for toys that encourage their passions. Whatever the interest, shopping according to your child’s likes helps to ensure that he/she actually gets to enjoy the toys. What’s more, it helps the child to feel supported and understood which can be great for helping an autistic child develop self-confidence.
Due to their hypersensitivity, choosing toys for autistic children can be a challenge. However if you take into account your child’s personality, the things that set him/her off, and keep the above-mentioned guidelines in mind, you should be able to find the perfect toys for your little girl or boy.