Toys are not only a good way to pass your kid’s time, but they also act as a learning aid. They act as a bridge to strengthen your bond with your children and are effective teaching tools in the classroom as well. With the importance of toys being established, you may have thoughts when buying toys for kids with autism.
Delve into this article as we help you pick out toys for kids with autism and special needs.
What is Autism?
Autism, also knowns as autism spectrum disorder is a disorder characterized by challenges in communication, behavior, and social skills. It is a relatively common disorder, with 1 in 54 children affected in the United States, according to the Centre for Disease Control.
Autism is a spectrum of disorders; hence, different people may experience a different range of symptoms. The common challenges you may experience with an autistic child include nonverbal communication, lack of social skills, and repetitive behavior.
You may start noticing changes in your child’s behavior around the age of 1-3 years.
Toys, Toys Everywhere!
From the moment you are expecting your little bundle of joy, you may start shopping for toys. It’s such a fun-filled task! From stuffed toys to pacifiers, dolls to motor cars, it’s a never-ending journey, and let’s be honest, you love it too!
While shopping for toys is an easy task, you may have concerns when you have to buy toys for kids with autism. This is rightfully true as we saw, autistic children tend to have repetitive behaviors and often do not express verbally.
So, what to know when buying toys for kids with autism? Let’s dive into the basics.
Also Read: Best Toys For 6 Month Old Babies
What Type of Toys to Pick?
Owing to the different needs of autistic children, different toys may be required. That’s a common thought that may pop up in your mind. However, it is safe to know that the toys normally found on the shelves of nurseries, preschools, and daycares are the same toys with which autistic children can safely play!
But you may want to know a few basic points while purchasing toys for kids with autism. As we saw above, autistic children have problems with communication and social interaction. Hence, toys are a good head start for them to learn, play, and have fun with.
So, the next time you go buying toys for kids with autism, you may want to keep these handy points in mind.
Know Their Interests!
There is no magic toy for kids with autism! Yup, you heard that right. When coming to know what to buy, you may want to keep an eye on your child’s interests. If a ball or car is what they like, then go for it!
Parenting does get overwhelming, no doubt. But the key is to focus on what your child wants, or what they prefer playing with. That way, engaging your child in that toy may be beneficial for their development as it lets them interact with you and develop a sense of comfort. While enjoying it at the same time!
Help Them Engage
Autistic children and children with special needs require more of your effort and time. As they often have trouble socializing with other children, you may want to look out for toys for a collaborative play, in which children play together.
This is different from the parallel play, in which children may be together but playing with their individual toys independently.
So, to encourage collaborative play, you may want to get a puzzle, a kitchen set, a dollhouse, and even board games to help them interact with you and other kids around.
Also Read: What To Teach a 5 Year Old Kid?
Sense and Sensibility?
Toys are a great means of learning and developing skills. They are also a great initiative to learn about the environment and how to go about doing day to day activities.
Autistic children, as we saw, have a delay in achieving their developmental milestones. In such cases, your child maybe 4-5 years of age, but may not know how to talk, feel, or interact with other people.
Here is where toys may come in handy. Different types of toys specially designed for children with special needs may allow your child to engage their senses more effectively. Children with autism either have hyper or hypo-stimulation.
This means they either feel too much of the sensory stimuli or may not feel them properly at all. The sensory stimuli include sight, smell, touch, taste, sounds, balance, and control as well as awareness of your surroundings.
Children with hypo-stimulation may not be able to feel pain or other tactile sensations. They may also have trouble with smell, taste, and sight too. On the contrary, children with hyperstimulation may feel an exaggeration of these senses. Causing them to be overwhelmed!
Here is where sensory toys come into play. Toys such as friendly sensory weighted blankets as well as vests or other pieces of clothing can provide an instant soothing effect. And help calm down your child or toddler.
The same is the case for what is known as a ‘sensory room’. A sensory room uses equipment that has a therapeutic effect, such as wall panels with an interactive font, ball pits, tubes, and other weighted stuff. All these products allow your child to immerse into a complete sensory experience.
Calming Them Down?
Other calming and soothing toys for kids with autism include chewable toys, especially for toddlers. These are very helpful to calm down your child and relieve their anxiety. Such toys help them to relax and the bright colored toys may help engage their visual senses.
Similar toys include kinetic sand, slime, goop, fidget spinners, as well as sensory mats and rainmaker toys. Apart from relaxing and calming your child, such toys allow them to use their senses in a proper way.
Toys for Kids with Autism- Takeaway?
We have effectively established the importance of toys, as great learning tools as well as a means to have fun. When it comes to picking toys for kids with autism, one thing to remember is that there are no magic toys! And all toys can be used in this regard.
The key here is to pick toys to encourage collaborative play, provide a soothing and calming effect as well as help them engage their senses in a better way. All while having fun too!