Sensory toys are those that give autistic children the sensory inputs that they desire. These sensory inputs include visual, tactile, and vestibular inputs, among others. For children undergoing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), these toys can provide the rewards used to reinforce positive behaviors.

With Christmas right around the corner, we wanted to show our top 10 sensory toys for children with autism.

1) THERAPY SWINGS

Toy For An Autistic Child

​Therapy swings provide a vestibular and proprioceptive sensory input for children with autism. These swings are usually made from a soft and stretchy material, which gives the child a sense of comfort and safety and well as control over their environment.

2) BALANCE BOARD/TEETER

​A balance board or teeter toy is another great source of vestibular input. The child can wobble from left to right or try to balance on the board in the center. This toy gives them the vestibular input they are craving while giving them an outlet to challenge themselves safely.

sensory balance toy for autistic boy

3) TRAMPOLINE

Girl Playing On Trampoline

Jumping on a trampoline is an activity that all children enjoy, but children with autism craving vestibular input especially enjoy the act of jumping. The trampoline stimulates their inner ear to provide the needed input while allowing them to improve their muscle development and coordination.

​4) BODY SOX

​Body Sox are precisely what they sound like, a sock for the whole body! The garment is made from a soft and stretchy material that is flexible enough for the child to run, jump and play in while wrapped in its comforting material. These toys enable children to develop their spatial awareness in a comfortable and safe environment.

5) FIDGET GADGETS

​Various fidget toys help children’s fingers busy and mind occupied. These toys provide the child with tactile sensory input while helping to calm them by giving them something to focus on.

interactive toys for autistic children

​​6) WEIGHTED STUFFED ANIMALS

Another option for children who crave tactile input is weighted stuffed animals. These bears and other animals are great for helping calm and focus the child by giving them an outlet for physical exploration. The animal’s weight provides proprioceptive input, assisting the child in processing the sensory information.

7) PLAY-DOH

Autistic Child Creating With Play Dough

​Play-Doh is about as classic a children’s toy as you can get, and it provides immense benefits to children with autism. The colorful dough offers visual and tactile input as the child rolls and shapes it, helping to calm them, focus them, and even improve their fine motor skills.

​8) SIGHT LIQUID TUBES

Sight liquid tubes – sometimes called ooze tubes or something similar – are a great source of visual input that helps to calm and focus children with autism. Watching the liquid transfer between the different chambers of the device is a rewarding experience that provides a strong stimulus.

​​9) EASY GRIP FOAM SENSORY PUZZLE BLOCKS

These large foam puzzle blocks are a great source of both tactile and visual sensory input. The child can explore the tactile and visual elements of the blocks as they build shapes and structures. The blocks are soft and safe for children of all ages.

Sensory Stimulating Foam Blocks For Autistic Child

10) PUZZLE BOARDS

Sensory Board Game For Autistic Children

​Puzzle boards are similar to the puzzle blocks above in that they help the child experience both tactile and visual stimulus, but strictly in a 2-dimensional space. This makes the toy more portable and easy to play with at school or in the car.

Reputable Resources on the topic of Sensory Toys:

Kozlowski, C. (2017, December 17). The Best Fidget Toys to Relieve Stress and Anxiety, https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/fidget-toys-to-relieve-stress-anxiety/

Sicile-Kira, C. (2010, March 2). What is Sensory Processing Disorder and How Is It Related to Autism?https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-autism-advocate/201003/what-is-sensory-processing-disorder-and-how-is-it-related-autism

Steinberg, O., & Owens, A. (2016, June 26). Simple Ways Sensory Based Intervention Can Change Your ASD Child’s Life.  https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/sensory-based-intervention/

Schecter R. A. et al. Fidget spinners: Purported benefits, adverse effects and accepted alternatives. Current Opinions in Pediatrics.