This could actually be great for all children. Depending on the level your children are at developmentally. You will know what is best. Sometimes it’s hard to buy gifts for children who have Autism spectrum disorders.
Every child is different and some may not tolerate certain textures, colors, or have obsessions that may trigger melt downs. Parents know their children better then anyone else. So if buying a gift for a friend, or family member with Autism, then asks for suggestions from their parents before buying anything.
Families whose children are on the spectrum love that others care enough to ask what their child may like or may need. Some of these suggestions of mine may not be a good fit for your child. These are just a few of the favorite toys we have used over the years at Our Little Red House. Best of all is that they don’t cost a lot of money. Therapy toys can be so expensive.
Also, you will notice something a little different about this post of mine and that is that some of the photos are out of focus. You see, what happen was this… I was out shopping at the dollar store for supplies. Garden and beauty supplies, like dirt, stacking pots, lotion, face cream, and a couple Easter cards to send out. Anyway, it was a quick trip and my son gave me his cell phone in case I needed it. They had just stocked the store that morning and it was packed with all kinds of great toys for Easter baskets so I used my son’s cell phone to do this post. I am terrible at cell phones and the photos are all over the place but my heart was in the right place when I thought of this fun post for you all.
Table games- Look for games that only require two players. Keep them simple too. Games that have easy instructions. This hockey game is perfect for ASD children to play with other children. So important to encourage sharing, and taking turns while playing. Kids learn from others. Playing simple games like this helps build confidence while making new friends
- Play clay- A fun sensory toy. Use clay to roll out snakes, then turn them into letter shapes and spell out your child’s name. Draw out tiny circles onto a wipe board/cutting mat in the same colors as the dough, then have your kids press the same dough colors into the shapes on the wipe board/cutting mat. A fun way to do mosaics with your clay pieces.
- Squishy toys- Another sensory toy. Great for quiet time and calming play times. There are so many sensory toys at the dollar store. Careful though because some smell horrible like gasoline and I don’t believe they are safe. I am not sure what that was about but I do remember there being a time when these types of toys smelled like they were filled with gasoline or something. Plus some people on the Autism spectrum are very sensitive to certain fragrances. You can make your own really cool sensory bags using unscented clear hair gel.
- Puzzles– Depending on the level your children are at, you may have to take turns with each piece helping them by showing them where each piece goes. Puzzles are great ways to spend one on one time with your children, which all children need from their parents. They have 24 piece puzzles that are great for beginners. Pick puzzles of your children’s favorite characters or things they are really interested in. Use your child’s obsessions while at the same time teaching them a new skill. Be careful though to not over do it. You know what may trigger your child so try to save those times for earlier in the day not late at night before bed time. Once your children sit at the table with you working on the puzzles they will eventually be able to start working on puzzles on their own. Before you know it, they will get excited when a new puzzle shows up for them to put together. Repetition and structured play time with anything helps build confidence in children.
- Play dolls and houses– Pretend play can be difficult for some ASD children because they don’t play with toys in the ways they were meant to be played with. Depending on each individual child they may use toys as a way to stem by stacking them, then knocking them down over and over. Or putting them on a shelf in patterns and rows over and over. This can be so discouraging when new parents witness this in those early years of Autism. With pretend play toys it is best to teach how these toys are used by becoming a kid again with your own children. Take an empty box and help your child paint and decorate it. Cut out paper rugs and glue on pictures to the walls in your box playhouse. Then put all your play furniture and dolls inside the boxes, playing out everyday situations. Find books on houses and families to read. Share pictures with your children so they understand what caring and living with families in different home settings is all about.
- Building sets- This was such a cool idea. Like a puzzle that turns into a car or plane. It comes with it’s own tools too. When my son was little he loved sets like this. His room was full of lego sets, and erector sets to build things with. One time he was with my husband at a friends house who was a mechanic and he had a small engine on his table. While my husband and his friend spoke my son sat at the table and started to put the engine back together yet he had never worked on engines before. The friend was shocked and my husband just told him that our son has always enjoyed putting things together. Start your kids out young on building sets, even if you have to build some sets first to show your child how it is done. They will have fun eventually building their own things.
- Play clothes- Kids love dressing up. Although there are some children on the spectrum who don’t like wearing clothes because of certain textures. Some play clothes when worn over regular clothes create a cocoon like feeling which can be very calming for children on the spectrum. Have a hamper or large basket filled with play clothes for your children to go through anytime they feel like practicing dressing skills .
- Kitchen and home play toys- This could be a small broom set or play kitchen utensils. When you clean house or cook a meal, have your children help along with you. Even if it is just pretend. Eventually this will help them to understand cleaning up our environments we live in and who doesn’t like cooking with mom and dad.
- Grow animals- not sure what they call these, they are like little tablets shaped into animals. We used to save our giant pickle jars for this fun little toy. Create a little chart to record the progress of the item growing. This helps introduce children to graphs and charts and also helps them see the whole process of big and little.
- Etch a sketch- these little tablets are great for teaching writing skills, letters, shapes, numbers. They are perfect for road trips, camping, long waits, restaurant visits etc…so much fun.
- Spinner tops- If you have cats they may want to join in with the fun on this one. I used to have spinner tops that had felt pins in them. They would create all kinds of colorful circles once they started spinning.
- Mini peg light up board- A knock off of the bigger Lite bright version, remember those. This is a great toy to help work on fine motor skills. Also a great toy for busy play since creating the little screens takes time. Once turned on it’s a special treat, making all that work worth it in the end. Display the lit up screen somewhere where everyone can see and admire it to encourage more creative play like this.
- Bouncy balls- You could do a whole basket of these in all sizes and colors. Turn it into a fun game of tossing the balls into baskets. A great way to work on communicating one step direction skills along with some gross motor skills as well..
- Craft kits- Small kits that don’t have a lot of steps to them are perfect for anyone that have a hard time staying focused for too long. You can work on these kits together encouraging your child to help with gluing the pieces together. After dry these little wooden craft kits are fun to paint. If your child has a hard time holding a paint brush use foam brushes instead. If holding tools is a fine motor skill too difficult then pick up a few packages of stickers for your children to stick onto their wooden creations. To work on holding tools you may have to hand over hand for awhile with your children but eventually they will learn how to use those muscles and fine motor skills. Never stop trying and never give up.
- Dominoes- A perfect matching and counting game. A great game to help teach taking turns and practice counting.
That’s it. The dollar stores have a treasure chest full of fun ASD toys. If you have any other suggestions that may help children with ASD as Easter treats please leave in comments down below. The best gift you can give to a child with ASD and their family is to just be their friend. Happy Easter shopping everyone.