There are certain considerations parents have to take into account when purchasing toys for their children on the autism spectrum. Depending on their needs, they may benefit more from certain toys, whether that means getting them playthings that are more or less stimulating. In some cases, specific toys may be too overwhelming for a child on the autism spectrum, overloading their senses and causing distress.
Other times, a child may need a toy that requires more involved play or stimulates their senses more intensely. It’s critical to know the differences, as well as some good toys for children on the autism spectrum. You don’t want to inhibit their enjoyment during their playtime, so you need to be particular about what you buy them.
Children With Hypersensitivity
Hypersensitivity is when children are especially vulnerable to stimulation. They take in all the sights and sounds around them, and it can easily overwhelm them, causing confusion and discomfort. Most often, children with hypersensitivity won’t benefit much from electronic toys that have lots of lights, sounds, and moving parts. It’s simply too much for them to handle, and that type of toy will inevitably do more harm than good.
Children With Hyposensitivity
Conversely, children with hyposensitivity don’t experience as much stimulation as those who have hypersensitivity. Hyposensitive children will need a greater degree of stimulation from their toys, meaning they’ll need the opposite of what hypersensitive children need. Moving parts, some complexity, or rough and unique textures all play a big role in getting your child involved in playtime, so choose a toy with these qualities.
Toys To Consider for Your Child
Blocks are simple yet stimulating toys for children that help them develop their motor skills and understand basic concepts of size and balance. Blocks don’t pose a risk of overstimulating children, as they don’t produce loud sounds or flashing lights, and they also provide an opportunity for more involved play.
Your children can build with them, using blocks of all different shapes and sizes to make their own constructions and exercise their creativity. Along with different shapes and sizes, blocks also come in different colors, offering much-needed visual diversity to keep kids engaged.
Building blocks provide the chance for your children to build their own structures, and train sets give them that same experience. Chuggington toys allow your child to mix and match train tracks, building their own network of tracks and finding new ways to make the same connections fit. For children with hypersensitivity, the toy trains offer a relaxed experience without overwhelming them with lights or sounds.
And for children with hyposensitivity, the different textures of the trains can really appeal to them and keep them engaged whenever they play. Train sets provide a safe and welcoming outlet for their creativity without exposing them to too much stimulus, ensuring they enjoy their time without interruption.
Simple yet effective toys, sensory mats give your child a diverse selection of shapes and textures imprinted onto these surfaces. You can lay them on the ground as your child feels the different textured engravings, providing a comfortable and relaxing experience to soothe them if they’re ever frustrated or overwhelmed.
The effects of these mats can also increase if your child closes their eyes, shutting out further stimulus to focus solely on touch. Sensory mats are comforting toys and are a great supplement to your child’s other playthings, whether they have blocks, trains, or anything else.
Putty and Slime
Just like sensory mats, putty, slime, and similar toys allow your child to find stimulation through touch. These toys don’t have any defined shape or texture to them, making them perfect blank canvases for your children to play with. With different colored putty, they can make new shapes and mold their own little creations, all while feeling the smooth texture.
If they want, they can even rough the texture a little to make it coarser; whatever they choose to do with their putty, it’s always reversible. With a nearly limitless number of shapes to make, there’s no shortage of possibilities with putty; there’s always something new and interesting your child can do with it.
Where putty and sensory mats can stimulate touch, rainmakers can stimulate hearing as well as sight. The colorful cascading balls inside the rainmaker can entertain children as they fall, and the sound the balls produce can soothe and relax. This sound simulates the fall of rain—a noise people universally associate with relaxation and calm.
Your child can decide how fast or slow they want the balls to fall and the sound to go depending on the angle they turn their rainmaker. While you may need to be careful if your child has hypersensitivity, as the balls may be too much for them, it is a wonderful toy for kids with hyposensitivity.
Many children find it difficult to keep their hands at ease, always wanting something to do with them. With fidget spinners, you can give them something fun and harmless to do as they wait and something to watch while nothing else goes on around them.
These spinners are common toys for when you’re on the go with your child and you need to keep them occupied during long errands, whether it’s to the grocery store or general shopping. Fidget spinners are also extremely cheap, so it’s not an issue if your child loses one during a trip; they’re stimulating and easily replaceable if the need arises.
Make Playtime Fun
Always know what your child will benefit the most from and a few great toys for children on the autism spectrum. Be aware of how much stimulus they can take and plan your toy purchases accordingly. You never want to give them something they can’t handle or a toy they’ll quickly grow bored with. Getting your child a toy with too many lights and noises or a toy that doesn’t capture their attention can significantly reduce their enjoyment of their playtime. Always make sure they have the appropriate amount of stimulation to keep them safe, comfortable, and engaged in their activities.