The 1-7th of April this week is World Autism Awareness Week. Autism is a life-long condition that can affect how people perceive the world. But each person is different, this is no exception for children who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the umbrella term for various conditions that include social, behavioural and communicational challenges. These challenges can range from fairly mild and hard to diagnose, to pronounced and sometimes severe - including everything in between.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a post with 5 toys for children with Autism, and why we think they’re great.
Waldorf makes some beautiful toys for children. Trouble reading social situations is a common experience for children on the Autism Spectrum. Stimulating social situations through role play can help children gain confidence through speech. It allows them to explore imaginary interactions in which they can learn more about the world around them and the world of their imaginations. I especially love these beautiful carved wooden animals.
Dancing Monkey by Matchstick Monkey
Dancing Monkey wasn’t originally developed with the needs of autistic children in mind. Yet we began to notice an increasing amount of enquiries from parents with autistic children about the teether. Further testing revealed why the Dancing Monkey was so popular with both younger and older children with autism.
Children with autism can often be very sensitive to sensory stimulation, so generally, prefer gentle sensory toys. Dancing Monkey has different textures designed to gently stimulate touch. This is why children, especially those with autism, find it so attractive and satisfying to chew.
Our tests found that unlike many other teethers and sensory toys, Dancing Monkey could be safely chewed by any child up to the age of 10 years old. That’s why we included it in our list.
Sensory Tumbling Toys by Plan Toys
These beautiful tumbling balls are a nice change from many of the big shiny garish plastic toys on the market. Being around nature is scientifically proven to help lower stress levels and promote calm. That’s thought to be one of the reasons that many of us love to use natural materials like wood in their own homes.
These natural rubber wood balls are delightful to hold, stimulating auditory, visual and touch senses. The balls house a mirror, some fun rattling wooden balls and a “fluffy, woolly felt material” designed for explorative and meditative play.
Sensory tables are in essence just a table with a tub on the top. They’re great at encouraging a child's sensory development and as well as stimulating learning, they can also be calming.
They can be used for all kinds of materials and play. Sand, gravel, water and even mud are a few of the most popular. But you can equally use dried pasta, lentils and other random dried household food items! Custard is a fun one (for outside!). The tables are great when combined with additional toys to compliment whatever materials or liquids you’re using.
Soothing Night Light
Toys that promote relaxation are a great choice. Night lights can help autistic children feel calm and safe, or drift off to sleep at night. There are all kinds of night lights - many are made in the US but there’s a good choice on Amazon that are suitable for older children who may have grown out of the night lights they had as babies.
No matter where your child sits on the autism spectrum, as parents, you want them to be able to enjoy their life to the full. Helping our little ones to interact with and navigate the world around them in a way they can understand, is what parents are for. Finding the right aids to do this - the techniques, learning tools and toys, is just part of the challenge for every parent. But it can be a more challenging journey for parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you have children with a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder and you’ve found toys your children love, let us know @matchstick_monkey.