Top 10 Amazing Toys for Autistic Children

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toys for autistic children

Top 10 Amazing Toys for Autistic Children

1Tangle Relax Therapy by Tangle Creations 

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Age Range: At least 5 years old

One of the most interesting toys for special needs that we have seen is the Tangle Relax Therapy. Technically, if you really want to be serious about it, the Tangle Relax is not a toy at all but rather a professional-grade physical and occupational therapy gadget that is designed specifically to relieve stress and provide constant activity for the hands. If you have a stress ball, then this is its elongated equivalent. The Tangle Relax is composed of 8 interconnected pieces that twists and conforms to any imaginable form. It has been used primarily to help patients manage their idle time so that they will be more productive. Among autistic patients, the Tangle Relax can help keep the mind busy and address the need for repetitive movements. This helps keep children busy while providing them with the tactile stimulation the need. The body of the Tangle Relax is beautifully wrapped in a soft and fully rubberized material complete with grooves and bumps and colored in a soothing hue of green and blue.

What We Like about It – The Tangle Relax has a very simplistic design. As simple as it may be, it’s been proven to be very effective in managing the anxiety that is often associated with having autism especially those related to repetitive behaviors.

2Transforming Original Mini Sphere Toy by Hoberman

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Age Range: At least 4 years old

Officially called the trapezoidal icosatetrahedron, the Hoberman Mini Sphere is one of the most functional gifts for autistic child simply because of its complex simplicity, whatever that is. Looking at the Hoberman in its collapsed form and you’d think that it’s just like any other ordinary ball about 5.5 inches in diameter. However, picking the Hoberman from any of its few dozen points and this seemingly ordinary ball expands to a lattice-like, star-like globe that spans a full 12 inches across. Thrown or rolled in a certain way and the Hoberman’s star-like features hold up really well providing any kid, or adult for that matter, with enough sensory input to stimulate his or her imagination. Pick it up in the wrong point and the Hoberman collapses into a ball more like a highly defensive hedgehog. So, if you are actively looking for sensory processing disorder toys, then the Hoberman Mini Sphere can help.

What We Like about It – The Hoberman Mini Sphere provides the best exercise to keep an autistic child’s mind and hands busy. This helps him or her take full control of his or her repetitive behavior. Additionally, we found that the Hoberman can be used as a very novel desktop ornament.

3Fidget Toy by Calm & Focused

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Age Range: At least 3 years old

Don’t ever underestimate the look of the Fidget Toy because it has been proven to be one of the perfect toys for special needs such as children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, and yes, even Autism. The Fidget Toy is more like a rubber band made of fabric, super elastic yet can also be bent, squished, and folded. It’s the ideal companion for those times when your kid simply cannot seem to control his or her repetitive behavior. The 3.5-inch tube of material contains a small marble inside providing the tactile stimulation that is the key to managing the stress of everyday living. These sensory toys for autism, ADHD, OCD, and ADD help to calm the mind by giving it something to focus on – the movement and feel of the marble and the textured fabric of the Fidget Toy. It also keeps the hands busy so the mind will be processing this information and not what is creating the anxiety. Here’s the best part about the Fidget Toy. It’s loved by teachers, parents, therapists, and even adults so your kid should be able to enjoy these autism sensory toys, too.

What We Like about It – If a product has a very simple design yet a lot of people are saying that it’s a very beneficial and highly recommended gadget for managing autism, then there must be truth to it. Besides, the whole idea about autism management is to keep the mind as busy as can be, to keep it stimulated, so that it won’t necessarily experience extreme stress.

4Photo Conversation Cards for Children with Autism and Asperger’s by Key Education

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Age Range: 5 to 10 years old

One of the many issues that autistic children have is their impaired communication patterns. More often than not, they have difficulty connecting or relating with the message of the communication primarily because their thoughts are jumping from one idea to the next. Using the Photo Conversation Cards will help children with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism to be able to focus on a particular topic. Each photo card comes with a very unique story that focuses on the development of the child’s communication and social relationship skills. You can then discuss with your kid certain aspects of a particular social situation and help explore the possible actions or even reactions of the individuals who are involved in that particular social situation. The Photo Conversation Cards make perfect gifts for autistic child as these provide them with the opportunity to learn to handle the different aspects of social interactions and relationships while at the same time enhancing the kid’s language and communication.

What We Like about It – The Photo Conversation Cards may not be classified as a toy but it sure is beneficial to autistic children. Managing the impaired social interaction and communication skills of autistic children is very challenging that even experts will often have cases that takes years to make significant progress. At the very least, the Photo Conversation Cards can give you the opportunity to help your autistic child in your own little way.

5My First Flybar Pogo Jumper for Kids by Flybar

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Age Range: At least 3 years old

If you are looking for more fun toys for children with special needs, we’d highly recommend the My First Flybar Pogo Jumper. This can really help your autistic child have fun and take his or her mind off whatever is causing anxiety. Plus, it can get your child into fitness so he or she will be a lot more prepared to manage his or her stresses. The Flybar consists of a very durable yet soft foam base attached to an ultra-strong and hyper-elastic bungee spring. The handgrips are wrapped in soft foam to provide absolute comfort while your kid is hopping around. The whole idea about using the pogo jumper in the management of autism is anchored in its ability to provide a distraction for the mind. Because the brain will have to coordinate the muscles that are required for hopping and landing while maintaining optimum balance, the brain will no longer have the time to think and process stressful information that can worsen the symptoms of autism.

What We Like about It – At first glance you won’t think of the My First Flybar as one of the most ideal gifts for autistic child. However, experts agree that as long as the mind is able to free itself from stress triggers, then you’d be able to manage the symptoms related to autism.

6Tot Tube Playset by Inspiration Play

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Age Range: 18 months to 8 years old

We never thought we’d say this but the Tot Tube Playset might as well be one of the simplest and most underrated toys for special needs. Don’t believe us? Imagine 3 plastic tubes with 2 connectors to join one tube to another. Now connect the 3 long tubes, placing the clear tube in between the 2 colored tubes, using the connectors and you now have 45 inches of mini tunnel to serve as an enclosed elevated gravity-based raceway for your kids. The Tot Tube has a diameter of about 3.4 inches although the interior diameter is about 2.75 inches which is big enough to accommodate miniature toy cars from HotWheels, Little People, and Matchbox. Technically, no other playset can get any simpler than this. Which, unfortunately makes us want to believe that people who buy this can actually just get a full length of PVC pipe and let the cars roll. But then again, there are safety concerns about such products which aptly justifies the Tot Tube’s inclusion in our list.

What We Like about It – Honestly, we have read some parents shocked to find out that they are paying this much for 3 pieces of plastic tube which, as some would put it, can be readily available from your handy hardware store. But then, how can we dispute the fact that many parents consider it one of the best sensory toys for autism?

7Liquid Motion Bubbler by Super Z Outlet

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Age Range: For all ages

If you own a lava lamp or you have seen one, then you know how it can get your autistic child glued to the fluid motion. That’s why one of the best sensory toys for autism is the Liquid Motion Bubbler. Just following the movements of the drops of colorful oil in a liquid environment can relax the mind and help calm fidgety and repetitive behavior. Because autism is more an issue of inability to focus or concentrate especially when presented with a lot of stimulus all at the same time, the benefits of the Bubbler is thus, readily apparent. Since your autistic child will have his or her attention fixed on the slow movements of the colorful blobs of liquid inside the beautiful glass, his or her brain will not be processing any information related to stress or anxiety. This helps kids to relax and manage their boredom.

What We Like about It – It’s the very simple design of the Liquid Motion Bubbler that is admirable. Besides, it can make for a fantastic desk décor.

8Hippity Hop by Bintiva

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Age Range: 3 to 6 years old

If you’ve been using a stability ball in the gym, you can look at the Hippity Hop as something very close to that but with a handle for your kids to hold onto. In fact, we’d prefer to call it a gigantic kettlebell because of the handle. These toys for children with special needs provide the focus needed by these kids. By keeping their balance while sitting or lying on the Hippity Hop, they are essentially telling their brains to keep busy with the maintenance of balance so kids will not fall. Additionally, the Hippity Hop can be an excellent workout for kids to strengthen their core muscles, giving them another reason to enjoy life, and focus on these instead of their autism. The Hippity Hop comes with a foot pump to allow for fuss-free inflation.

What We Like about It – Aside from the obvious benefits of total concentration and focus which can help autistic children, the Hippity Hop can also be beneficial in enhancing vestibular orientation and the proprioceptive senses. Besides, it’s highly recommended by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and even educators.

9Wacky Tracks by Toysmith

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Age Range: For all ages

We have never seen a really ingenious toy for autistic children until we saw the Wacky Tracks. It’s like a chain but made of plastic instead of the usual metal or steel. The Wacky Tracks is heavily articulated allowing it to be transformed into almost any imaginable form. That’s why many consider these autism sensory toys as one of the best. It can be shaped into letters, symbols, and even numbers. For the more creative they can form bracelets and even a mini necklace. The Wacky Tracks is made of lightweight yet durable plastic.

What We Like about It – The imaginative potential afforded by the Wacky Tracks is simply astounding. The mind of an autistic child can be kept busy as he or she attempts to create as many designs as possible with just a single Wacky Track.

10Liquid Motion Bubbler by Toysmith

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Age Range: 12 to 15 years old

Just like the Liquid Motion Bubbler from Super Z Outlet, the version from Toysmith is exactly the same although in different color variants. These autism sensory toys provide the distraction for the mind to focus on the colorful bubbles that slowly move towards the top of the 5.75-inch glass bubbler.

What We Like about It – It’s not actually a toy but the Toysmith Bubbler is an excellent tool to keep the mind preoccupied and focused on the slowly rising bubbles. This way, your autistic child will be able to manage the triggers of his or her symptoms.

How We Chose the Top Autism Sensory Toys in Our List

We are not child psychologists nor are we autism experts. We nevertheless, know exactly how parents feel when they first learn that their child is autistic. We have encountered many of them and we share in their angst and frustrations and have made these as our learning points in coming up with this list of amazing sensory processing disorder toys.

First we had to look at the toy’s developmental appropriateness. We know that different autistic children at different stages of development will require slightly different sensory stimulation. For example, an autistic infant will often have problems responding to social stimuli. On the other hand, an autistic toddler will have problems with taking turns. Knowing these subtle differences in autistic children helped us determine whether a particular toy fits a developmental purpose. Otherwise, we might as well scrap the item and move on to the next in our long list of gifts for autistic child. So, the very first thing we had to look for is the toy’s appropriateness to the age and development of the child.

Secondly, we needed to make sure that these products are made of only the safest and highest quality material and underwent a manufacturing process that adheres to strict quality control standards. Products that were subjected to voluntary testing, evaluation, and certification were deemed to be more credible than products that required mandatory testing. We believe that a company that voluntarily puts its products to be tested and evaluated is very confident about the quality workmanship of its products. This is also an excellent sign of a company’s overall reputation.

Third, we knew we had to listen to what parents of autistic children have to say about these sensory toys for autism. We must be able to back up our decision to include one particular toy but not another by combining our near-objective product evaluation with the experiences of moms and dads everywhere regarding their children’s use of these products.

Autism is quite a very touchy subject. But we also know the predicament of parents who love their autistic children so much. That is why we have chosen to embark on this seemingly impossible mission to provide you with a selection of the most amazing toys for special needs.

Autism and Our Children’s Future

Three of the most recognizable manifestations of autism are impaired social interaction skills, difficulty in communication, and repetitive behavior. Unfortunately, because of the rather inorganic nature of the condition, scientists are baffled as to what actually causes it or what the underlying mechanisms are. There are those who say it’s genetic while others point to environmental factors. What we do know is that autism affects more than 20 million people worldwide and all of them have been diagnosed as autistic during their early childhood years.

There are many who are concerned about what the future brings for children with autism. It should be understood that while autistic children will have problems in their social interaction, communication, and motor behavior, many have fantastic cognitive abilities. This is because there are many different kinds of autism. One of the most celebrated and most often cited forms of autism is high functioning autism or HFA. In many instances, this is often mistaken for Asperger’s Syndrome, another form of autism.

The fact of the matter is that, since children will only have developmental delays or problems in certain aspects of their neurodevelopmental growth, many tend to compensate for these deficits by doing well in other areas. For example, Dan Aykroyd of the Ghostbusters fame is known to have Asperger’s. Perhaps the most iconic example of autistic individuals doing exceptionally well in their chosen fields of endeavor is Prof. Temple Grandin, TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010. There are other very successful individuals who are experts in their field despite having autism or Asperger’s. This is just proof that autism is not really a disorder but rather a state of being different, of being unique.

It is therefore, important for us as parents of kids with autism to provide them with all the opportunities to develop their other skills and not just their communication and social interaction skills. We can provide them with toys that are specifically designed to help control the repetitive behaviors of autistic children as well as provide the correct tools to help improve their social interaction skills and language and communication. More importantly, we have to recognize that help is available to those of us who really need it.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best toys for children with special needs can be difficult. However, with our top 10 amazing toys for autistic children, you can be sure that you’ll make the right decision whichever toy or gift item you choose.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!
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