Picking the right learning toys for autistic kids can be a tough challenge. However, as a parent you need to understand that toys for children with autism don’t just provide time for amusement. In fact, if carefully chosen and appropriately handled during playtime, autism toys can actually turn into efficient tools for improving the essential skills of the child. Let’s have a look at some wonderful learning aids for children with autism.
Balls, trampolines and punching bags
Autistic children love to jump and mini-trampolines give them a safe place to enjoy this activity. Along with providing a physical workout, these are quite effective autism toys for improving balance and coordination. Other aids that are wonderful for improving balance and coordination are large bouncy balls and punching bags. Punching bags also help improve the anticipatory reflexes of children with autism. They also provide an outlet to release excessive built-up energy or even let off some steam.
Balls are very effective tools for providing tactile stimulation also. Squishy balls with different textures can help improve sensory tolerance for different textures and fabrics. Also, don’t forget that balls can be used for their usual activities of catching, throwing and kicking which can help to improve balance and coordination.
Building bricks, puzzles and stacking cups
You can teach anything from colors to numbers to emotions using puzzles. They help improve motor and problem solving skills along with providing a sense of accomplishment which is reinforcing enough for the child to stay interested.
Wooden puzzles with knobs are wonderful autism toys for improving fine motor skills. Stacking cups are good tools for improving manual dexterity and teaching the child such skills as sequencing and ordering. The ever popular lego bricks also work well and teach the child about sequencing and ordering, as well as the amount of pressure that is supposed to be used while putting the pieces together.
Play dough, pencils and crayons
Children with autism have sensory issues and anything that provides them with sensory input can be of great value. Toys such as play dough provide tactile stimulation and can be used to create different characters and shapes. This makes them great learning aids for pretend play and for teaching social skills.
Pencils, crayons and markers provide sensory input and improve fine motor skills. Combined with a white board or a large piece of paper, these can be great communication tools also. This is especially useful for a non-verbal child who can learn to express his or her desires, fears and wants by writing or drawing.
Picture cards and books
Picture cards are excellent autism toys which can be used to teach various social and communication skills to the child. Emotion cards can be used to help recognize facial expressions associated with different emotions and also the appropriate ways to react to them. Flashcards can be used to teach sign language to a non-verbal child.
Children with autism are also more likely to learn how to communicate when different games, cards, or music are used to make this a fun activity. Reading stories from books or listening to audio books are wonderful for promoting imagination and improving the social and communication skills of the child.
This list of learning toys for autistic kids is in no way a complete one. In fact, any toy can be used as a wonderful autism toy to improve the sensory-motor skills, language and communication skills, and social skills of your child. All that is needed to get the most value from them is a little creativity.
Autismepicenter: Autism Toys for Girls and Boys
Autismspeaks: Developmental Toys & Tools
Autism-World: Best activities and toys for autistic children
LoveToKnow Autism: Learning Toys for Autistic Kids
Picture credit - image released into the public domain under Creative Commons Attribution License