Many children with autism are either hypersensitive or under-responsive to stimuli. Most of the time, they’re a mix of the two. Per Expert Community Care Management in Erie, Pennsylvania, while most people can ignore certain sounds, smells, or lights, those with autism spectrum disorder may attempt to avoid these triggers by pulling away or covering their ears. Those who are under-responsive or hyposensitive constantly need to move or make loud noises to get more sensory input from their environment.
Specially designed sensory toys can help children on the spectrum play with their family and friends and engage their senses to help them remain calm. We looked at some of the best sensory toys to help your autistic or sensory-deprived child make the most of their playtime.
Theo the Therapy Dog
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Are you looking for the perfect companion to help your youngster navigate an unfamiliar place? Then it’s time they met Theo. Besides being adorable, this award-winning foot-and-a-half-long plush pet is comfortable enough to wrap around a child’s neck or lap and can sit by itself. There is also a pack of beads that releases a lavender scent—you can warm it up or refrigerate to heighten your child’s senses with touch and smell.
Jennai Sensory Mini Mats
These inexpensive mini-mats feature 15 different textures, including corduroy, cloth, and crocodile skin, to help encourage young children to explore their sense of touch and enhance their mental development and fine motor skills. And with two of each texture available, this is the perfect toy to share with others.
Solace Chewelry Necklace
This fashionable line of chewable jewelry is the perfect item to keep kids focused and calm and help protect their mouths, especially if they chew on their clothes, your favorite pen, or anything else. These discreet, colorful, and durable silicone necklaces provide oral stimulation, are made of pure food-grade silicone, and are easily washable. They also include a breakaway clasp to protect the wearer from any hazards.
BUNMO x 123GO! Silly Slappers
If you’ve been to a child’s birthday party recently, then you know that slap bracelets are back in a big way. These eye-catching textured toys combine that fad with the stress-relieving properties of your favorite fidget toys to stimulate all the senses. They can stick to walls, make a fun popping sound when you pull them off, and change into different shapes.
EocuSun Kids Ball Pit
Fast food restaurants and pizza places no longer have ball pits for health reasons, but there’s no reason why your child can’t have the experience at home. These toys improve sensory processing and fine motor skills and encourage relaxation. And as an owner of one of these ball pits, I can attest to how easy it is to put this together and store it. It’s a great way to occupy young kids for a long weekend afternoon. Remember, if you decide to purchase it, that the balls aren’t included.
This inflatable device is perfect for an imaginative game of pirates or anyone looking for a comfortable place to read a book or binge their favorite show. The therapeutic canoe, made of latex-free vinyl and coated with a soft surface, is also beneficial for hyposensitive children who need deep pressure to help stimulate and calm them down. While the manufacturer claims it is easy to set up, it does not come with the high-volume pump required to inflate it.
Art3d Liquid Fusion Activity Play Center
The children’s department of my local bookstore put these eye-catching tiles in their play area, and my children love to see the colorful fluid inside move around as they hop on them. A quick glance at the reviews on Amazon shows that parents of autistic children love these play mats because of their sensory properties. Keep in mind that the edges are sharp and can scratch, but there are round versions too.
Super Stacking Tops Kit
Watching these colorful tops spin has a hypnotizing quality that can stimulate anyone. The challenge is getting all five tops stacked and spinning on each other, which can be an excellent way for children to sharpen their fine motor skills.
Playskool Magnatab Free Draw
Little magnets pull and click as the stylus moves across the surface of this engaging toy. Your child can erase the designs they draw by pressing down the beads with their finger or the side of the stylus. This affordable non-electric tablet stimulates the imagination as well as the senses.