The Best Toys for Autistic Kids of All Ages

The Teeter Popper has fun curved edges to strengthen balance and coordination

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Play is an essential component in developing a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. It helps children learn about the world around them, cultivate relationships, and foster their creativity. Through play, children learn valuable life skills such as taking turns, compromising and cooperating, and looking at situations from another’s perspective.

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The Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper can help regulate an autistic child’s vestibular system by strengthening their balance and coordination. It also makes a popping sound when used, which creates a fun sensory experience. The Fubbles No-Spill Bubble Tumbler is a low-cost toy that can help strengthen motor, oral, and social skills. It is small enough to be held by a toddler and provides hours of play without the mess.

For an autistic child, play may look different than it does for a neurotypical child. According to Susan Kim, a behavioral interventionist who has nearly 10 years of experience working with autistic children and young adults, autistic children may engage in unique forms of play, such as repetitive motions or fixating on specific toys. “They may also find it difficult to read social cues or take turns with others,” says Kim. Many autistic children also struggle with processing sensory information.

To determine which toys are most engaging and beneficial for autistic kids, we spoke to licensed marriage and family therapist who works with autistic children, a behavioral interventionist, and a former behavioral specialist. After reviewing nearly 60 different toys, we developed a list of recommendations that are appropriate for children of all ages across the autism spectrum. 

Here are the best toys for autistic kids.

Best Overall: Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper

4.8
Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper

Courtesy of Fat Brain Toys

Pros
  • Can help regulate vestibular system 

  • Makes fun popping sound

  • Wide age range

Cons
  • Decorative handles may come off with use

The Teeter Popper is a great toy for autistic kids because it can be used in a variety of ways. Depending on their skill set, kids can sit down and rock back and forth, ride it like a teeter-totter, or stand up like they’re surfing. In this way, the Teeter Popper engages the vestibular system to strengthen balance and coordination—two traits with which many autistic kids struggle.

The Teeter Popper can hold up to 110 pounds, and its unique shape cradles children while they sit inside or balance on its edges. The bottom is lined with suction cups, so it makes a popping sound when rocked around. This noise, combined with the gentle rocking movement, makes the Teeter Popper a satisfying sensory toy. 

Price at time of publication: $40

Dimensions: 28.3 x 11.5 x 7.3 inches | Weight range: Up to 100 pounds | Recommended age: 3-10 years | Helps with: Gross motor skills, core strength and balance, coordination, sensory processing

Best Budget: Little Kids Fubbles No-Spill Big Bubble Bucket

Little Kids Fubbles No-Spill Big Bubble Bucket

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Mess-free play 

  • Small enough for little kids to carry

Cons
  • Small wand limits amount of bubbles

Bubbles are both a fun and calming activity for autistic kids. When children run after and pop bubbles, it strengthens both their fine and gross motor skills. Similarly, blowing bubbles strengthens oral motor skills, and touching them promotes sensory processing skills. 

This particular tumbler is designed to be leak free. Kids can run and jump while holding it (and even carry it upside down) without spilling a drop. It comes with 4 ounces of non-toxic, dye-free solution, and best of all, there’s no assembly required. 

Price at time of publication: $10

Dimensions: 5.25 x 3.25 x 9 inches | Recommended age: 18 months and up | Helps with: Gross, fine and oral motor skills, social skills, sensory processing

Best for Sensory Development: Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Soft, moldable texture

  • Includes 33 molding tools

  • Made of no-ntoxic ingredients

Cons
  • Contains gluten 

Play-Doh is a childhood staple that is ideal for autistic kids. Its tried-and-true formula allows children to bend, mold, squish, and cut it into whatever they’d like, encouraging them to explore and create freely with their hands. Plus, its soft texture, bold colors, and distinct scent make for a pleasant sensory experience that can be used for years to come. 

This set has everything a child needs for playtime. It comes with six cans of Play-Doh and loads of accessories, all of which help strengthen fine motor skills. Although it's made of non-toxic ingredients, Play-Doh does contain wheat, which may make it unsafe for autistic kids who follow a gluten-free diet.

Price at time of publication: $20

Dimensions: 3.19 x 12.99 x 10.24 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Sensory exploration, fine motor skills

What Our Experts Say

“Using Play-Doh can be a great sensory experience for an autistic child.” — Susan Kim, Behavioral Interventionist

Best Fidget Toy: Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Brand Baby Toy

4.9
Dimpl

Fat Brain Toys

Pros
  • Wide age range

  • Helps with stimming

Cons
  • Smaller than expected

Sometimes the best toys are also the simplest. In the case of the Dimpl, this five-bubble popper is small enough to be held in one hand and lightweight enough to bring everywhere. It can be used by babies, toddlers, and older kids alike, although babies may not have the dexterity to push the bubbles. 

The Dimpl is made of BPA-free plastic, and the bubbles are made of food-grade silicone, so it’s safe if a kid puts it in their mouth. This is especially helpful for autistic kids who may chew as a form of stimming. Pushing the bubbles is also a great way to keep a child’s hands busy and engage in sensory exploration.

Price at time of publication: $13

Dimensions: 5.5 x 5 x 1 inches | Recommended age: 6 months and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, stimming, cause and effect, sensory exploration

Best for Nonverbal Kids: LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Amazon

Pros
  • Bilingual settings

  • Recites more than 100 words 

  • Books vary in theme

Cons
  • Some photos may not look realistic

This digital book is a great way to build an autistic child’s vocabulary. It has 12 interactive pages that focus on objects, people, animals, food, and places they may see in their daily life. Best of all, this book is made from sturdy plastic, so its pages can’t be torn. There are six books in this series, all of which have bilingual settings and can alternate between English and Spanish or English and Chinese. 

To use the book, children need only to turn to a page and begin touching pictures. Whenever a picture is touched, it will be repeated in one of three modes: words, colors and counting, and fun sounds. For example, if a child touches the picture of a cow, the fun sounds mode would say, “moo!” However, some of the photos may not look realistic, so parents and caregivers may need to offer clarification. This book also includes two bonus bilingual songs and features a handle to take it on the go. 

Price at time of publication: $20

Dimensions: 1.89 x 9.37 x 9.17 inches | Recommended age: 18 months-5 years | Helps with: Verbal and communication skills

Best Calming Toy: Harkla Sensory Swing for Kids

Harkla Sensory Swing for Kids

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to install

  • 200-pound capacity 

  • Machine washable

Cons
  • Fabric snags easily

  • Installation requires tools

A sensory swing may be helpful for an autistic child in a variety of ways. First, it may cater to their desire to sway their body as a form of stimming to help reduce anxiety. It may also stimulate the structures in the inner ear, which can be regulating for a child who has a hypo-reactive vestibular system. The Harkla Sensory Swing can also be used as an acrobatic toy of sorts, helping a child learn to balance and build their strength. 

This swing also has a unique ability to provide a sense of calm. When sitting inside, it can be folded around the child to create a cocoon-like structure, which can be an incredibly soothing sensory experience. To install the swing, you’ll need a high-quality stud finder and some basic tools. As a bonus, every purchase of this swing provides funding for the University of Washington Autism Center on Human Development & Disability, which offers therapy for autistic kids, conducts research, and trains parents and caregivers.

Dimensions: 48 x 100 inches (assembled) | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Vestibular processing, calming through compression, sensory seeking

Best Chew Necklace: Tilcare Chew Chew Sensory Necklace

Tilcare Chew Chew Sensory Necklace

Amazon

Pros
  • Non-toxic 

  • Sturdy material

  • Set contains three necklaces

Cons
  • Not recommended for teething babies

If your autistic child chews on objects as a form of stimming, these necklaces are an easy and convenient way to redirect their behavior. Made from 100% food-grade silicone, these necklaces are safe for kids to put in their mouths, but only if they’re at least 5 years old. Parents and caregivers can also rest assured knowing they’re giving their child a product that’s free of BPA, latex, phthalates, lead, and metals. 

It’s important to remember that children should always be supervised by an adult when chewing on a foreign object—even if it’s meant to be chewed on, like this necklace. To prevent accidental choking, each necklace has a safety clasp that can easily be pulled in the case of an emergency. This set comes with three necklaces, each in its own pastel shade.  

Price at time of publication: $7

Dimensions: 1.8 x 0.4 x 0.4 inches | Recommended age: 5 years and up | Helps with: Stimming, anxiety or stress reduction

What Our Experts Say

“These necklaces can help redirect a child who mouths other objects, and they can take the necklace with them everywhere.” — Hanna Hughes, Preschool aide and former registered behavioral technician

Best Game: Disney Classic Characters Matching Game

Disney Classic Characters Matching Game

Amazon

Pros
  • Solo or group play

  • Easy to learn

Cons
  • May need to reduce number of cards for younger kids

From Disney princesses and Mickey Mouse to Marvel and Winnie the Pooh, this matching card game comes in a variety of character themes so parents and caregivers can cater to their autistic child’s interests. It comes with 72 matching cards and easy-to-follow instructions that can be learned in minutes. 

In addition to memorization, this game can help autistic kids identify objects and enhance their vocabulary. It’s also quite versatile, as it can be played independently or with others as a way to work on social skills. When playing with younger children, parents and caregivers may need to reduce the number of cards so that the game is accessible to them. 

Price at time of publication: $11

Dimensions: 10.5 x 8 x 1.5 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Social skills, memorization, taking turns, object identification

Best Lining Up Toy: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Well-made with classic design 

  • Multiple track configurations

  • Compatible with other train systems

Cons
  • Works best on a train table (sold separately)

This wooden train set has everything your child needs to expand their imagination. The trains and accessories connect together by magnets, which is great for autistic children who enjoy lining things up. In doing so, they learn cause and effect while also working on their fine motor skills.

This set comes with 100 wooden tracks and supports, as well as 30 train pieces and accessories, including trees, traffic signs, and people. It even comes with a magnetic crane that can be used to pick up cargo from the various trains. However, to keep the tracks intact, parents and caregivers may want to consider purchasing a Melissa & Doug Multi-Activity Table, which is sold separately at Amazon for $195.

Price at time of publication: $160

Dimensions: 29.5 x 18.5 x 6 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, cause and effect, social skills

What Our Experts Say

"Melissa and Doug are my go-to toys, as the quality really holds up. Plus, there are so many different uses." — Nicole Clelland, LMFT

Best Sensory Board: Learning Advantage Bear Activity Wall Panel

Learning Advantage Bear Activity Wall Panel

Amazon

Pros
  • Four sections of play 

  • Easy to install

  • Can be used independently or side-by-side with others

Cons
  • Not for outdoor use


This colorful board offers 3 feet of versatile, hands-on sensory play. Kids can play independently or with a peer as they engage with the sliding shapes, tilting maze, and moving gears. There’s also a small mirror that invites them to make silly faces and interact with their reflection. 

This board is easy to install and includes all the necessary hardware. By hanging it on the wall, you can adjust it to your child’s height, and you won’t have to sacrifice floor space. Although this wooden sensory board is built to last, it should be kept indoors at all times. 

Price at time of publication: $110

Dimensions: 12.75 x 36 inches | Recommended age: 18 months and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, cause and effect

Best Toy With Sensory Lights: Glo Pals x Sesame Street Julia Light-Up Water Toy & Cubes Set

Glo Pals x Sesame Street Julia Light-Up Water Toy & Cubes Set

Amazon

Pros
  • Provides a positive sensory experience 

  • Cubes are recyclable

  • Features Julia, the autistic character from Sesame Street 

Cons
  • Batteries aren’t replaceable

If your child is a fan of Sesame Street, this bath toy is perfect for them. It comes with a light-up figurine and cubes modeled after Julia, Sesame Street’s beloved autistic character. It was created specifically to help autistic children overcome the sensory overload that can happen during bathtime. 

When submerged in water, the figurine and cubes instantly light up, providing a hands-on sensory lesson on cause and effect. The average battery life per cube is around 4-6 weeks, but they can’t be replaced when they run out. However, they can be recycled, and Glo Pals will send you a coupon for another purchase if you do so. While these extra steps may seem cumbersome for a bath toy, it can be worth the effort if it helps your child look forward to and enjoy bathtime. 

Price at time of publication: $16

Dimensions: 1 x 1.25 x 0.8 inches (cubes); 3.69 x 3.75 x 0.88 inches (doll) | Recommended age: 3 and up | Helps with: Sensory processing, fine motor skills, bathtime aversions

Best Spinning Toy: ArtCreativity Light Up Magic Ball

ArtCreativity Light Up Magic Ball

Amazon

Pros
  • Spins and lights up

  • Handheld and lightweight

  • Has an on/off button

Cons
  • Clear cover may crack if dropped

Young autistic children are often drawn to objects and toys that spin. The ArtCreativity Light Up Magic Ball is a toy that caters to this interest and is small enough to be taken anywhere. It’s about the size of a small flashlight, making it the perfect companion for car rides or doctor’s appointments. Its spinning motion and colorful lights draw children in with a mesmerizing effect. 

The Light Up Magic Ball uses light-emitting diodes (LED) to create its kaleidoscope-like display, which may have a calming effect on an autistic child. The Light Up Magic Ball comes with three AAA batteries and is ready to be used right out of the box.

Price at time of publication: $15

Dimensions: 7.8 x 2.6 x 2.6 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, stress reduction, sensory engagement

Best Musical Toy: Edushape Twirly Whirly

Edushape Twirly Whirly

Walmart

Pros
  • Creates a soothing sound 

  • See-through, colorful design

  • Fun to watch

Cons
  • Larger than it appears

Since loud and sudden noises can be overstimulating for autistic children, the Edushape Twirly Whirly is a great alternative to traditional musical instruments. When turned upside down, a collection of tiny, multi-color balls make their way through the tube, creating a gentle, rainstick-like sound. This soothing sensory experience can help calm an autistic child in overwhelming or stressful situations. 

As each ball makes its way down the tube, it goes through various obstacles before collecting at the bottom. This is not only entertaining to watch, but it can also cater to an autistic child’s desire to focus on items that fall or spin.

Price at time of publication: $25

Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 12.5 inches | Recommended age: 2 years and up | Helps with: Eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, sensory engagement, cause and effect

Best Active Toy: Little Tikes 4.5 ft Lights 'n Music Trampoline

Little Tikes 4.5 ft Lights 'n Music Trampoline

Amazon

Pros
  • Good for rainy days

  • Handrail folds down

  • Pick-your-own lighting and music

Cons
  • Lights can be glitchy

  • Heavy

This 4.5-foot indoor trampoline is a convenient and fun way to get your child’s energy out, especially if you aren’t able to go outside. It has a sturdy, padded handlebar that is helpful for autistic children who struggle with balance and coordination. The handlebar also folds down flat, so the trampoline can be stored away when it’s not in use. However, the trampoline weighs 20 pounds, so it may require two people to lift it. 

This trampoline is unique in that it has 15 LEDs lining its perimeter. Together, they shine in nine different patterns that add some extra excitement to your child’s jumping session. There’s also a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker that will play your child’s favorite music as they bounce to the beat. 

Price at time of publication: $120

Dimensions: 4.33 x 42.9 x 20.87 inches | Weight range: Up to 55 pounds | Recommended age: 3-6 years | Helps with: Gross motor skills, sensory engagement, balance, and coordination

What Our Experts Say

“Transitions can be especially hard for kids with autism, so this trampoline can be a segue to move from one activity to the next. It also provides a great way to get their energy out.” — Hanna Hughes, Preschool aide and former registered behavioral technician.

Best Tactile Stimulation Toy: Battat Bristle Blocks, 85 pcs

Battat Bristle Blocks

Amazon

Pros
  • Variety of shapes and colors

  • Easy to use

  • Ideal texture for sensory processing

Cons
  • Contains small pieces

This 85-piece set offers a fresh take on traditional building blocks. Instead of stacking, these colorful blocks interlock at every angle with the help of the bristles on their exterior. The textured, round edges are soft and fun to touch and make these blocks a great sensory activity. They also come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, including triangles, circles, and wheels. 

This block set includes several small figurines, which can encourage an autistic child to engage in make-believe play and strengthen their social skills. The blocks can be sanitized with soap and warm water, and the included carrying case makes cleanup a breeze. 

Price at time of publication: $19

Dimensions: 9.5 x 4 x 8.25 inches | Recommended age: 2 years and up | Helps with: Sensory engagement, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, dexterity

Best for Language Development: Melissa & Doug See & Spell Learning Toy

Melissa & Doug See & Spell Learning Toy

Amazon

Pros
  • Made entirely of wood 

  • Helps with identifying letters and objects

  • Letters can be used for stenciling

Cons
  • Contains small pieces

This spelling puzzle provides a fun and engaging way to work on verbal and communication skills. It comes with eight two-sided boards that display three-to-four-letter words and an accompanying picture. This combination can help children in a variety of ways, including letter and object identification as well as spelling. 

By placing the small, brightly colored letters into their corresponding slots, autistic children can also work on their fine motor skills. This entire puzzle is made from wood and comes enclosed in a sturdy wooden case. 

Price at time of publication: $28

“I like that this puzzle involves placing the individual letters because you can work on fine motor skills as well as verbal sequencing.” — Hanna Hughes, preschool aide and former registered behavioral technician.

Best for Stimming: Cocomelon Fidget Popper Keychain

Cocomelon Fidget Popper Keychain

Amazon

Pros
  • Can attach to a backpack or belt loop for easy access

  • Made from silicone

Cons
  • Small size makes it easy to misplace

If you’ve noticed that your autistic child engages in stimming behaviors, this fidget popper might be a great tool to help them manage their emotions and cope with overwhelming situations. It features pictures of characters from the popular kid's television show Cocomelon and is small enough to fit in a pocket or the palm of your child’s hand. 

Another great aspect of this fidget popper is its keychain. By clipping it to your child’s belt loop or backpack, they can access it whenever they need relief. And because its soft silicone bubbles can be popped over and over, it provides a positive sensory experience that can help an autistic child block out unwanted sensory input. This four-pack of poppers also comes with a decorative door hanger and a pack of 3D butterfly stickers.  

Price at time of publication: $13

Dimensions: 2 x 0.2 x 2 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Stimming, stress relief, sensory engagement

Best for Social Skills: KidKraft Mosaic Magnetic Play Kitchen

KidKraft Mosaic Magnetic Play Kitchen

Amazon

Pros
  • Magnetic refrigerator and freezer

  • Ice maker dispenses plastic ice cubes

  • Comes with magnets, condiments, and cookware 

Cons
  • Detailed assembly required

Engaging in pretend play is directly linked to higher social-cognitive skills as well as social-emotional skills. This KidKraft Play Kitchen invites children to enter into a world of make-believe where they can pretend to participate in a variety of everyday skills, including preparing food, using the ice maker and microwave, and washing dishes in the sink. 

There’s also plenty of sensory play to be had in this kitchen. The magnetic refrigerator comes with magnets to apply, which is a great hands-on lesson in cause and effect. When using the oven, kids will hear the knobs click as they turn them back and forth. They can also hang the included spatula, ladle, and pan on the hooks and fill the kitchen sink with water to wash dishes. When assembled, this kitchen is slightly more than 3 feet high and wide. 

Price at time of publication: $155

Dimensions: 40.71 x 13.23 x 39.65 inches | Recommended age: 3 years and up | Helps with: Social skills, fine motor skills

What Our Experts Say

“Kitchens are a popular form of dramatic play for kids with autism, and this magnetic one is good for sensory exploration.” — Hanna Hughes, Preschool aide and former registered behavioral technician.

Best Learning Toy: Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog

Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Amazon

Pros
  • Helps with counting, colors, and fine motor skills

  • Wide age range

  • Self-contained storage 

Cons
  • Contains small pieces

This toy can be used by autistic children as young as 18 months old and is educational in a variety of ways. As they learn to place the pegs into the hedgehog’s back, kids can strengthen their fine motor skills while identifying the number listed on each hole. 

This toy also helps with counting and color recognition. Since the pegs vary in color, kids can identify and name the color when placing the peg. And as children learn to count, they can identify the number of pegs or sort them by color. When it’s time to clean up, the pegs stack neatly inside the hedgehog’s removable shell. 

Price at time of publication: $16

Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.1 x 3.9 inches | Recommended age: 18 months and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, color recognition, counting, sorting

Best Water Toy: Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to set up

  • Good for non-swimmers

  • Includes 13 accessories

Cons
  • Must drain after use

Water play is a fun outdoor activity for autistic kids of all ages. It provides a cool, soothing sensory experience and allows them to be creative and play with others. Rather than inflating a pool, parents and caregivers can simply fill up the Step2 Water Table with water, and it’s ready to go. This water table is a great backyard addition because it doesn't take up much room and is easy to set up. 

The Step2 Water Table comes with 13 accessories, ranging from floating toys to spinners, ramps, and buckets, so kids can work on pouring or creating their own waterfalls. They can also launch a toy frog into the water by using a removable side flipper or fill up the top tray and watch and listen to the water trickle into the pond below. This water table is easy to clean and is a good option for kids who are 18 months and older. 

Price at time of publication: $90

Dimensions: 39.02 x 24.02 x 32.01 inches | Recommended age: 18 months and up | Helps with: Fine motor skills, sensory engagement

What Our Experts Say

“Water is great for sensory play, and this table has a variety of tools and accessories that can strengthen fine motor skills like scooping and pouring.” — Hanna Hughes, Preschool aide and former registered behavioral technician.

How We Selected the Best Toys for Autistic Kids

When conducting our search for the best toys for autistic kids, we spoke with a licensed marriage and family therapist, a behavioral interventionist, and a preschool aide who is a former registered behavioral technician—all of whom have years of experience working with autistic children and young adults. We relied on their feedback as we analyzed dozens of toys and, upon selecting our recommendations, prioritized those that are engaging, strengthen motor, communication, and social skills, and provide a positive sensory experience.

What to Look for in Toys for Autistic Kids

It’s important to note that autism is a spectrum—each person will have a different variety of traits. Every autistic child has their own needs, so providing them with certain kinds of toys may be therapeutic, help them to engage with their peers, and play in a way that is accessible to them. When searching for toys for an autistic child, parents and caregivers should focus on those that are engaging and develop their child’s motor and social skills. Toys should also provide a positive, engaging sensory experience. 

Engagement

While every child has their own individual hobbies, autistic kids’ interests are often restricted to particular topics (called special interests). Catering to these interests will not only engage them in various modes of play, but it can also help them cope in stressful situations. For example, if your autistic child loves to watch Cocomelon, you may find that purchasing a Cocomelon Fidget Popper Keychain helps ease the transition when it’s time for school, a doctor’s appointment, or bedtime.  

If you’re attempting to broaden your child’s interests, you can also use their current interest as a segue. For example, if your autistic child is interested in Mickey Mouse, you can invite them to play the Disney Classic Characters Matching Game which features Mickey, but includes other characters, too. 

Developmental Stage and Motor Skills 

From strengthening fine and gross motor to enhancing communication and social skills, toys can be beneficial and educational in a variety of ways. Some toys, like the Battat Bristle Blocks, target both fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination. Others, like the Little Tikes 4.5 ft Lights 'n Music Trampoline, are great for strengthening gross motor skills while working on balance and coordination. 

While it’s important to find toys that stimulate your child, you’ll also want to consider their age and developmental stage so they don’t find the experience over or underwhelming. This is especially true when it comes to autistic kids who are working on their verbal skills. "To build verbal skills, I use pictures, books, and games for emotional identification and verbal labeling," says Clelland. The LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book is a great option for working on verbal skills because it’s interactive and allows children to identify pictures and words in a variety of ways. 

Sensory Experience 

Providing autistic kids with positive sensory experiences may improve their socializing skills. A fun way to do this is to introduce your child to the Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set. “Play-Doh is a great sensory toy for kids who have autism because it can help with developing fine motor skills, like cutting and rolling,” says Hanna Hughes. Investing in a sensory board like the Learning Advantage Bear Activity Wall Panel also allows parents and caregivers to provide their autistic child with a tech-free toy that engages their senses.

Stimming is a natural practice that autistic children use to calm their anxiety when struggling to process sensory information or alleviate boredom. While it can take many forms, offering them a chew necklace, like the Tilcare Chew Chew Sensory Necklace, can be a helpful and fast-acting way to manage their anxiety and overwhelming emotions through stimming. 

Promotes Social Skills

Depending on how they’re used, most toys can help build social skills, especially when used alongside peers. "Toys that fit each child's unique life experience can help autistic children build social skills," says Clelland. "One of my favorite activities is to ask autistic children to pick an animal for each family member or friend and explore why they chose that specific animal. It is a great way to understand how they experience people in their lives and discuss skills based on their answers," she says.

Games, like the Disney Classic Characters Matching Game, are a great way for autistic kids to build social skills. “Matching games provide a variety of opportunities for children with autism to develop skills they’ll need in life, like identifying objects, memorization, and taking turns,” says Hughes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an autism sensory toy?

    An autism sensory toy is something that is specifically designed to stimulate the senses. In doing so, the toy can help autistic children regulate their sensory needs and provide a sense of calm. Whether it be molding Play-Doh, exploring a sensory board, or gazing at a light-up ball, engaging the senses through play is a therapeutic and educational pastime for autistic children.

  • How can I help my autistic child with stress?

    Stress is difficult for everyone, but it’s especially challenging for autistic children. Depending on their interests, providing your child with a sensory toy, chew necklace, or fidget popper can help them lower their stress level, provide a sense of control, and regulate their emotions.

  • What are some coping strategies for autistic kids?

    When feeling stressed, some autistic children may engage in self-stimulation, or stimming movements, like humming or hand flapping, to help them cope with overwhelming situations. Certain toys, especially those that can fit in their pocket backpack, like the Cocomelon Fidget Popper Keychain, can be accessed on the go and help an autistic child cope with a stressful situation and offer more ways for them to stim.

Why Trust VeryWell Family

Laura Lu is an experienced health writer who has a Master of Science degree in Health Communication. Her work has appeared in publications like The New York Times, Media Psychology, Brit+Co, and Parents.com, to name a few. She’s also a mother of two young children and has firsthand experience with many toys on this list.

11 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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