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Play is an important part of childhood — and it’s not just fun and games. Play lets children be creative and run with their imaginations.

For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), play provides important sensory input, which simply means engagement with the five senses.

It 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.

Children with autism may also have difficulties with sensory processing. This means they may have trouble processing sights, sounds, smells, textures, or anything else that stimulates the senses.

As a result, you may want to explore toys that speak to your child’s proprioception (sense of their own body), vestibular input (sense of their head’s position and movement), and tactile stimulation (sense of touch on their skin).

When looking for toys for children with autism, it’s important to keep these things in mind. It’s not that your child won’t enjoy any type of toy. Instead, it’s about finding what toy most engages your child and what may help them work on certain skills.

Also keep in mind your child’s developmental stage (which may delayed). Toys usually appropriate for certain age groups may or may not work for a same-aged child who has ASD.

What type of toys do the trick?

  • To enhance proprioception, 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, try toys that rock, spin, swing, or involve some other motion, like a trampoline.
  • To practice tactile stimulation,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.

If you simply look up “toys for children with autism,” you’ll likely find an overwhelmingly long list. We’ve categorized some of the most popular toys and included ratings based on their usefulness, quality, and — well — 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 children with ASD.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25–$50
  • $$$ = over $50

Best toys for nonverbal autism

Best sensory toys for autism

Neliblu Wacky Tracks Snap and Click Fidget Toys

Price: $

You’ve likely heard of a fidget spinner. The idea with these snap-and-click chains is similar. They’re a tactile fidget toy that may help reduce stress or anxiety while also increasing your child’s focus and attention. Each link of 24 in a chain moves and locks into five different positions while also producing a satisfying clicking noise.

Reviewers say these are a hit with their kids with ASD and that many of their little ones like breaking the chains, connecting them, and forming them into bigger shapes.

This toy is best for older kids, though. The links may be stiff and difficult to move for small hands, and the pieces of the links are quite small, which could pose a choking hazard for little ones.

Best games for kids with autism

Best musical toys for autism

Best toys for preschoolers with autism

In the end, your child is going to enjoy toys that cater to their unique interests or needs. If your child receives Early Intervention services, you might reach out to your therapist to see if there are any particular 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!