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We rounded up some top toys for autistic kids that prioritize engagement, sensory input, skill-building, and fun.
- Best for kids who are nonverbal | Skip to reviews
- Best sensory toys | Skip to reviews
- Best games | Skip to reviews
- Best musical toys | Skip to reviews
- Best for preschoolers | Skip to reviews
- Best cause and effect toys | Skip to reviews
For autistic children, play provides important sensory input, which simply means engagement with the five senses. (Don’t forget balance and body awareness too!)
Play also gives autistic children an opportunity to connect with peers (social skills), practice motor skills, and develop a better understanding of the world around them.
If you simply look up “toys for autistic children,” you’ll likely find an overwhelmingly long list. We’ve categorized some of the most popular toys based on their usefulness, quality, and — of course — fun factor.
The following toys earn high marks from both caregivers and therapists. Some are even designed specifically or have been designated by the manufacturer as a good pick for autistic children.
- $ = under $25
- $$ = $25–$50
- $$$ = over $50
Best toys for autistic kids who are nonverbal
Best sensory toys for autistic kids
Best games for autistic kids
Best musical toys for autistic kids
Best toys for preschoolers
Best cause and effect
Autistic children may have difficulties with sensory processing. This means they may have trouble processing sights, sounds, smells, textures, or anything else that stimulates the senses.
A 2021 review of research found that play-based interventions can be helpful for sensory processing, as well as social and communication skills.
Making time for play doesn’t just have to be between parents and their children. Studies have explored the value of play among children of all abilities (including exposing children who are on the spectrum to children who are not).
As a result, you may want to explore toys that speak to your child’s:
- proprioception (sense of their body’s movement and position)
- vestibular input (sense of their head’s position and movement)
- tactile stimulation (sense of touch on their skin)
When looking for toys for autistic children, it’s important to keep some things in mind. Toys for autistic children should ideally be more than just fun (although that’s important!). They should also be engaging for your child and help them work on certain skills.
Also keep in mind your child’s developmental stage (which may be delayed). Toys that are usually appropriate for certain age groups may or may not work for a same-aged autistic child.
- To enhance proprioception (sense of movement): Find toys like jump ropes, modeling clay, weighted balls, or bean bags, and toys that provide a hugging sensation, like a large bean bag chair.
- To strengthen the vestibular sense (sense of balance): Try toys that rock, spin, swing, or involve some other motion, like a trampoline.
- To practice tactile stimulation (sense of touch): Shop for toys with different textures, as well as finger paints, play scarves, bubbles, and sand and water toys.
Aside from sensory toys, other good choices involve toys that work on language development (particularly if your little one is nonverbal) as well as fine and gross motor skills.
You may also want to search for musical instruments, sorting toys that soothe your child, or toys designed for “stimming” (self-stimulation, like rocking) or fidgeting. Games that get kids working together and honing social skills are another solid option.
Older autistic children may like toys that let them use their fingers and hands to fidget. Try to get an idea of your child’s interests, and then explore and research toys related to that interest.
Nonverbal children may best connect with toys that encourage them to speak or express themselves. Research shows that pretend play can also be useful.
However, some nonverbal children may become frustrated with toys that encourage speech and prefer toys that involve other communication modes.
Knowing if your child is hypersensitive or hyposensitive to stimulation can guide toy choices. A child who’s highly stimulated may do better with calming toys. A child who’s hyposensitive may connect more with brightly colored toys that have light and sound.
In the end, your child is going to enjoy toys that cater to their unique interests and needs. If your child receives early intervention services, talk with your therapist to see if there are any toys they suggest adding to your home collection.
Otherwise, focus on toys that speak to sensory needs, fine and gross motor skills, as well as language development and social development. Above all else — have fun!