Sensory Toys for Autism

Autism spectrum Disorder or ASD is often accompanied by sensory, social, cognitive, and emotional issues, making learning and socializing quite difficult. 

Children during the early stages of development rely heavily on their senses to develop an intimate understanding of the world that surrounds them. 

In fact, the five senses i.e, sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing along with the other two senses vestibular sense and proprioception allow individuals to maneuver through their surroundings easily. 

Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder can experience too much or too little sensory input making them unable to connect with their surroundings and peers efficiently. 

Sensory Sensitivities can lead to sensory avoiding behaviors often making children with autism apprehensive when partaking in sensory activities or indulging in other play activities making them feel excluded. 

Sensory toys can be a great way of not only facilitating the development of all the senses but also developing cognitive, physical, social, emotional, fine motor, and gross motor skills in children. 

If you are a vigilant parent or an immediate caregiver looking for some engaging and exciting Sensory Toys for autism, look no further. 

Below is everything you should know about Sensory Toys for Autism to provide your child with the best play experience and facilitate sensory development.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory input is the body’s natural response when the sensory organs come in contact with sensory stimuli. 

These sensory stimuli can be received by any of the 7 senses i.e. sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste, vestibular, proprioception (and introspective). 

Sensory Processing is a cognitive process where the brain recognizes, identifies, and categorizes different sensations. 

Sensory Processing allows individuals to efficiently maneuver through their surrounding environment. 

Sensory Processing disorder on the other hand is a cognitive condition that affects your brain’s ability to process sensory input. 

In other words, Sensory Processing disorder is a neurological or cognitive defect that hinders one’s basic life functions as they are unable to process any information based on their senses. 

Along with the primary five senses, sensory processing disorder can also affect lesser-known internal senses i.e, vestibular sense, proprioception, and motor skills. 

Individuals diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorders either receive a high amount of sensory input or an extremely low amount of sensory input.

While an overwhelming response to sensory stimuli and input may lead most children to feel anxious or overstimulated, a lack of response to sensory input may cause the child to possess sensory-seeking behavior.  

Based on the two prime examples of sensory processing disorder, here are some symptoms a child may possess:

Sensory Hypersensitivity:

  • Clumsiness
  • Low pain tolerance
  • Inability to regulate one’s emotions
  • Covering eyes and ears constantly
  • Running around regardless of safety
  • Picky eaters or sensory food aversion
  • Sensing soft touches to be harsh or painful
  • Short attention span
  • Behavioral problems
  • Resisting physical touch

Sensory Hyposensitivity:

  • High pain tolerance
  • Constantly touching things
  • Bumping into walls or objects
  • Trying to taste objects orally
  • Seeking physical touch or giving frequent hugs
  • Disregard for personal space
  • Constantly moving, rocking, or swaying

Why is Sensory Play Important for Autistic Children?

Children diagnosed with autism can often experience difficulties when processing sensory input, meaning that children can often face trouble processing visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile sensory stimuli.

Sensory toys and Sensory Play Activities integrate meaningful and valuable sensory stimuli that children promote explorative play without overwhelming them. 

Sensory Play is a great way to allow children with Autism and sensory processing disorder to develop their social and communication skills. 

Furthermore, Sensory Toys and Sensory Activities promote children with autism to relax, focus, and develop emotional skills to calm themselves down when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. 

Sensory Toys and Sensory Play activities also provide children with simplified and concrete representations of complex concepts as well as allow them to comprehend the concepts of cause and effect.

What to Look for in Sensory Toys for Autism?

Sensory toys and Therapy Toys are common means of facilitating sensory development in children with autism. 

While there are myriad sensory toys available in the market, children diagnosed with autism require toys that integrate specific sensory stimuli and components that cater to their needs and requirements. 

Sensory Toys for autism are more than just toys to keep children entertained, in fact, sensory toys for autism strive to develop and enhance the child’s attention span, and creative imagination as well as develop their fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive skills. 

It can be quite bewildering and pretty perplexing as a parent or an immediate caregiver to find Sensory Toys that accommodate and cater to your child’s needs and requirements. 

If you have searched on countless search engine websites and faced inevitable defeat look no further, here is what you should look for in Sensory toys for Autism:

Enhancement of Proprioception:

Many children with autism often seek proprioceptive sensory input as a means of efficiently regulating their emotions and behaviors when exposed to sensory stimulation. 

Toys like bean bags, weighted blankets, jump ropes, and weighted balls are great sensory toys for autism that provide them with a comforting sensation.

Promote Tactile Stimulation:

Tactile Sensory toys are a great way of introducing unique tactile stimuli to children with autism. 

Tactile Sensory Toys integrate different textures, shapes, sizes, dimensions, and consistencies that help children develop their fine motor skills and enhance their attention span.  

Tactile toys like finger paints, moon sand, kinetic sand, bubbles, slime, play dough, or fidget toys are a great way of developing the tactile sense in children with autism.

Enhancement of Vestibular Strength:

The vestibular system governs one’s balance and allows individuals to collect input about their body position (spatial awareness) to help coordinate movement based on one’s own and externally generated forces. 

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can lead to gait dysfunction, postural instability, and impaired gaze which can prevent the child from reaching age-appropriate gross motor milestones. 

Toys like Therapy Swings, spinners, balance boards, and rocking toys can be a great way of developing your child’s vestibular sense.

A list of The Best Sensory Toys for Autism:

There is a diverse range of toys available in the market that promote children to indulge in engaging self-directed play activities. 

Sensory Toys for Autism aim to provide children with numerous benefits that go beyond sensory stimulation when integrated into the child’s daily schedule. 

Each sensory Toy for autism strives to isolate each sense and develop multiple skills simultaneously. 

Sensory Toys for Autism allow children with sensory processing disorders to become acquainted with new and unique sensory stimuli in an organized and systematic manner.

Since finding the right toy for children with autism can become a daunting task for most parents, here is a compilation of the best Sensory Toys for Autism:

1. Sensory Mats:

Sensory Mats as the name suggests are exceptional sensory toys for autism that provide children with a unique sensorial experience and encourage them to indulge in explorative self-directed play. 

This sensory toy comes in the form of small mats that fashion different textures ranging from simulated grass, sandpaper, fuzzy fabric, soft plush, snakish, and carpet-like fabrics. 

Each fabric or mat is color-coded to provide children with visual stimuli to help them develop categorizing skills and identification skills based on different tactile and visual inputs.

2. Senzees Vibrating Cushion:

The Senzees Vibrating Cushion is a great way of calming children with autism as it produces soothing sounds and comforting vibrations. 

This fun sensory toy for autism is a great way of facilitating the development of social skills in children and allows children to improve their verbal initiations and responses.

3. Harkla Compression Therapy Swing:

Harkla Compression Therapy Swing is a great sensory toy for autism that helps develop proprioception and vestibular sense in children. 

This fun Sensory toy provides children with a hug-like comforting experience making them feel compressed and calm. 

This sensory toy is exceptionally sturdy making it perfect for children weighing up to 200 pounds. 

When swung around in the Harkla Compression Therapy Swing children are also able to develop their vestibular strength.

4. Creature Comfort Weighted Sensory Turtle Lap Pads:

The creature comfort Weighted Sensory Turtle Lap pad combines the benefits of tactile sensory input and weighted compression into one. 

Children with autism often enjoy playing with weighted toys since they provide a calming effect. 

This toy integrates cute and adorable turtle-shaped lap pads that are not only weighted to provide a compressing and comforting experience but also have a unique texture to develop the child’s tactile sense.

5. Slime, Sand, or Putty:

Slime, Moon Sand, and Putty can be a great way to promote children to not only develop their fine motor skills but also enhance their tactile sense, hand-eye coordination, and visual sense. 

These fun sensory toys for autism can also promote the development of social skills in children by promoting them to indulge in collaborative activities.

6. Fidget Spinner:

Fidget spinners have become all the rage over the past couple of years and for very good reasons. 

This fun sensory toy is not only perfect for Autism but also highly effective for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and ADD. 

This toy can be a great way of facilitating the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual sense, and tactile sense in children with autism.

7. Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper:

The Fat Brain Toy Teeter Popper is a perfect sensory toy and a must-have for any child with autism. 

Not only do these fun sensory toys for autism help children develop their tactile sense and fine motor skills, but also develop their gross motor skills. 

This fun toy helps children develop their vestibular sense and proprioception by promoting them to jump on the fun contraption and learn how to balance. 

Children can also develop their fine motor skills and tactile sense by popping the silicone poppers on the board.

8. Snap and Click Fidget Toys:

The Snap and Click Fidget Toy is great for keeping the child busy for hours on end and enhancing their attention span, problem-solving skills, as well as critical thinking. 

This Tactile sensory toy comes with a set of 6 different shape puzzles with different assorted colors that the child can twist and snap into any shape of their choice.

9. LED Tambourine:

The LED Tambourine is a great sensory toy for autism that helps facilitate the development of auditory sense, visual sense, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination in children. 

This fun toy comes with flashing lights for a unique visual experience and plays calming music that helps develop their auditory sense.

10. Reflective Balls:

Reflective Balls is a unique and intriguing sensory toy for autism that provide children with ASD and ADHD with an interactive and engaging visual experience. 

This sensory toy for autism is also a great way of facilitating the development of fine motor skills in younger children.

11. Rainmaker toy:

This fun sensory toy for autism is a great way of developing an auditory and visual sense in children. 

This toy comes in the form of a 16-inch rainmaker stick with colorful balls that trickle down to provide a calming vibrating sound that can sound highly soothing to children with autism. 

This toy is also a fun way of developing your child’s gross motor skills and fine motor skills as it allows them to pick up the toy and maneuver it to produce sounds.

12. Counting Bear Game:

Sorting and categorizing is a fun way of calming and comforting children with autism. 

Tasks such as counting, matching, and categorizing promote repetitive behaviors that can be very calming for children with ASD and ADHD. 

The BMAG Counting Bear Game comes with 90 different colored gummy bars of large and small sizes, 6 corresponding colored cups, 11 control cards, and 2 large tweezers. 

Children are promoted to sort different colored bears into their corresponding cups with the help of large tweezers. 

This toy is a fun way of developing fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination, and promotes them to comprehend mathematical concepts from a very young age. 

Counting and categorizing activities help children also develop their social skills as it promotes children to indulge in collaborative activities with their peers.