Creative Ideas for Toys for Autistic Children

Written by carmen laboy
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Creative Ideas for Toys for Autistic Children
Many kids with autism love toys. (toys image by Alexander Petrari from

Children with autism, or pervasive developmental disorders, have unique needs when compared with other children. Autism can affect how children play. Finding toys and games that engage your child enough to actively participate in the outside world can be difficult but there are a number of options available. Children with autism play in unusual but ingenious ways and rarely need others' input to entertain themselves. Savvy parents and teachers can use their preferences to help draw them into interacting with the world.

Sensory Toys

Many children with autism do not play in the typical sense of the word. Much of their play is focused on sensory stimulation instead of imagination or turn-taking games. Sensory toys can be anything that stimulates the senses. Creative parents on a budget may be able to make some at home. Find out what your child's sensory needs are by observing them. The motions that they engage in repetitively are ones that stimulate an important sense to them. Some like the sensation of spinning; a tire swing may fulfil their need. Others enjoy textures and touching things. Sewing together bits of cloth with a variety of textures may provide an entrancing distraction for your child to explore and draw comfort from if necessary. Balls or blocks in different shapes and colours might be an option for those who enjoy visual input.

Games of Interaction

Acting and imitation games offer children with autism the chance to learn socialisation skills in a way they get. Most children with autism have a hard time understanding social cues, including taking turns, facial expressions, and body language. At some point, a child with autism might be ready for a theatre camp. In the meantime, all you really need is a little imagination and three or four kids. The most popular games start with imitation: one child makes an expression, the next imitates it then takes it a step further and so on until a complex choreography begins. After learning the basic rules of imitation games, movement games can teach children about body language. Show an expression and make a motion at another person in the game who then accepts the interaction if they wish, until the children learn from one another.

Kitchen Play

Children with autism struggle to eat a healthy variety of foods. Bring them into the kitchen to help make a meal. Engage them in the process. For fun, try egg-less cookie dough, which be used as play dough to make shapes and then baked and eaten. Some children with autism enjoy using a whisk. Pots and pans can be toys for children who like making sounds by knocking on things. Other children may like looking at shiny kitchen utensils, stacking or organising them.

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