Hello readers! Today’s post is a little bit different than my usual crafty ones. With this post I am going to share with you what I believe are the 13 best sensory toys for autistic toddlers. I’m writing on the subject because my own little one is showing signs of autism and some of these toys have been essential to his learning. Many toys on this list have been recommended by his therapists or other parents with autistic children. Let’s take a look!
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What is sensory play?
Sensory play is intended to activate the 5 senses to help a child learn and explore the world around them.
This type of play is absolutely crucial to development and can lead to learning even more complex tasks later on. Things like language, motor skills, problem solving, and more can be introduced through fun sensory play.
Here is a list of toys that I have found to promote use of the senses for playtime.
1. Playskool Poppin’ Pals Pop-Up Toy
I put this toy on the list because my son’s developmental therapist was extremely enthusiastic about it. It is one of the main learning toys they like to implement to help with coordination and so much more.
What makes this toy great is that it has many different kinds of buttons and switches. Each one takes a specific kind of motion to activate.
This toy is one of the perfect sensory toys for autistic toddlers because it takes a combination of problem solving and fine motor skills to operate it. Building these types of skills is quite essential in the long run.
My son loves this toy and carries it all around the house playing with it.
2. Skoolzy Nuts and Bolts
This awesome nuts and bolts toy is used by occupational therapists as a learning tool for autistic toddlers and even adults.
Fine motor skills are put to work when playing with them. The self correcting nature make this toy good for toddlers to increase manual dexterity without the frustration.
The Nuts and Bolts toy is also great for learning colors, shapes, hand-eye coordination, and focus.
It comes with an easy storage backpack to help keep it organized. It is also certified BPA free and non toxic which is a great plus.
3. Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog Fidget Friend
Spike the Hedgehog works well because he features 6 fun fidget activities which makes it one of the best sensory toys for autistic toddlers to play with.
This toy is great for long car rides or taking to appointments. He will keep your toddler busy and stimulated with fun at the same time.
Spike is the perfect size for little hands will help to build strength. This is important for toddlers as they grow to be able to hold pencils and crayons.
This sensory toy is both colorful and entertaining all in one.
4. Kidzlane Bubble Machine
This specific toy is great for children 3 years and up but could be used with adult supervision for younger toddlers as well.
Bubbles are incredible because children can participate in playing with them whether they are verbal or nonverbal.
You can refill this toy with any kind of bubbles which are typically inexpensive. Bubbles are also portable and can be played with anywhere.
These are one of the best sensory toys for autistic toddlers because they can sometimes initiate a natural communication response.
Some children will try to communicate due to the temptation to act and respond naturally to the fun situation.
Overall, bubbles are just great fun for everyone.
5. Sensory Rings
I enjoy these toys because my son is an avid chewer. He has most of his teeth now, but still likes to explore toys by chewing.
Sensory rings work well because they are durable and come in plenty of different shapes and textures.
These particular sensory rings have suction cups that can help attach it to the bath or other surface for more versatile play.
The sensory rings can be easily cleaned and are BPA free as well.
6. Busy Boards
My son currently uses a homemade busy board, but they are available premade as well. Busy boards feature clasps, zippers, spinners, and various other activities to do.
A busy board can teach problem solving and help hone fine motor skills.
Busy boards are one of the best early education toys for autistic toddlers.
Not only are they fun and engaging, but they help toddlers learn cognitive skills and so much more.
7. Pop Push Sensory Toy
I would venture to say pop push sensory toys are the next big thing. They are used in to relieve stress for both autistic children and adults alike.
When you push the bubbles they make a pop sound. You then can flip it over and start again.
These sensory toys provide endless entertainment and can also be used for counting or other mathematics.
I have found this to be one of the best sensory toys for autistic toddlers because it is really easy to use and not overly complicated like other toys.
I prefer the large pop push toy because you don’t run out of bubbles to push as quickly.
8. Weighted Blanket
Now I know this isn’t much of a toy, but more of a tool. Weighted blankets are used to provide comfort and reduce stress in those suffering from anxiety and autism.
Children and adults with autism often experience sleep trouble. Weighted blankets can offer comfort to help them sleep more soundly.
These weighted blankets are built to be safe and durable.
9. Touch Light Doodle Pad
I think this toy is absolutely brilliant. My son has a hard time holding crayons or pencils. Honestly he isn’t very interested.
This doodle pad is extraordinary because it allows him to draw and be creative without the use of a utensil.
The touch light doodle pad makes for a great multi-sensory toy. It features the squishy gel screen, light up, and sound as well.
10. Pop Tube
Pop tubes make a lovely sensory toy for toddlers and children 3 and up. They could also can be used by younger children if they are well supervised.
These simply pop tubes bend and make noise. They can be fashioned in all different ways and even connected. Pop Tubes are highly popular as an auditory fine motor and fidget toy.
They are simple and fun for other ages as well.
11. Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart
The interactive alphabet wall chart provides stimulating learning through sight, touch, and sound.
The brightly colored pictures and letters help children put things into perspective which helps them understand new things.
This toy is engaging and interesting as it makes sounds, sings songs, and even has some alphabet games to play.
Many parents have found this toy helpful for their early learners. It promotes memorization and can even help increase reading comprehension.
12. Touch and Feel Book
This type of touch and feel book makes reading interesting. My son does not like to sit down for any amount of time so traditional books are not enough to engage him typically.
We prefer books such as this one that allow him to explore his touch sense as he enjoys checking out the different textures.
Adding other sensory elements to the reading experience is a great way to keep a toddlers attention.
Touch and Feel Wild Animals has multiple textures that are all different and unique. There are actually several books like this that have different animals so I highly recommend checking those out if you’re interested.
13. Mega Blocks
I cannot stress enough how much my son adores Mega Blocks. He still is fumbling with putting them together, but there is no doubt he enjoys holding them, observing them, and taking them apart.
His comfort toy of choice happens to be a blue mega block. He wants to take it everywhere he goes and clutches it tight.
Playing with blocks is one of the most stimulating and engaging ways to learn for any toddler and especially toddlers with autism.
Block play can help toddlers learn how to cooperate to build, hone fine motor skills, and even develop their imagination through creativity.
Mega blocks are also larger and easier to manipulate with little hands.
What to look for in a sensory toy for autistic toddlers
The point of a sensory toy is to stimulate the 5 senses. A good sensory toy will encourage kids to utilize scientific processes while they play naturally.
The best traits to look for are things that are durable, engaging, and fun at the same time.
You will not want a toy that has a lot of small parts, is overly complicated, dull, or boring. Autistic toddlers just like any toddler will want something that provides long lasting fun and excitement.
Good qualities for sensory toys.
- Fun Textures
- Makes Sounds
- Able To Mouth Or Chew (If your toddler likes exploring that way.)
Try letting your toddler have the lead.
I think one of the most important things that I have learned personally is to follow my toddlers lead during play. Many times if I get on his level and follow what he is looking at or playing with I can find a connection to engage with him.
My son does not speak and rarely if ever responds to others around him. When I play with a toy he seems to like I can often show him something or teach him something new.
At times he will begin to make eye contact in which I use as an opportunity to try to teach him.
By following your toddlers lead you may discover what kind of sensory play they enjoy the most and find better ways to engage with them.
I hope this post helps!
I do hope my post helps some parents be able to find fun sensory toys to introduce to their toddlers. Do you know of any fun and engaging sensory toys for autistic toddlers that I left out? Did you learn anything about sensory toys?
Feel free to let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!