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How to Overcome Sensory Problems in Children with Autism

How to Overcome Sensory Problems in Children with Autism

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23 Sensory Toys for Kids with Aspergers or Autism

Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have problems processing sensory information. Hyporesponsive or hyperresponsive children might react with meltdowns, withdrawal, or other challenging behaviors. Desensitizing tools can make it easier for these children to cope with sensory input.

Under-sensitive children seek out more of a sensation to feel satisfied. Depending on the sense, this can mean they turn up the TV volume, jump on the bed, or watch the wheels of their toy car spin over and over. Sensory toys give them the sensation they crave in a fun, safe way.

Over-sensitive children try to avoid certain sensations that are too overwhelming. This might mean they cover their ears when the vacuum cleaner is on, want the tags cut out of clothing, or cry when placed on a swing. In these cases, sensory toys act as an enjoyable introduction to sensations that children dislike with the goal of making the sense more tolerable in the future.

Toys and tools can help with sensory integration of textures, sounds, brightness, balance and movement to improve daily life.

Our Top 23 Sensory Toys & Tools for Children with Autism

Light-Up Molecule Ball: Visual and Tactile

Light-Up Molecule Ball

Self-contained balls light up in multi-colors when squeezed. Lights stay lit for 20 seconds and then turn off. This toy is great for visual and tactile fun.

Gel Shapes: Visual and Tactile

Gel Shapes

These shapes are great for visual play. Five different shapes are filled with clear, blue, red, yellow, and green gel. Glitter inside the gel moves around for extra stimulation. The squishable shapes are also great for tactile fun.

Tactile Discs: Tactile

Gel Shapes

Develop your child’s sense of touch with ten fun discs, five 11” and five 4”. The five different colorful tactile structures can be enjoyed using the hands and feet.

Wave Drum: Auditory and Visual

Wave Drum

This drum is great because it stimulates auditory senses in two ways. The surface makes a noise when struck with the drumstick and the beads make an ocean noise when the drum is moved side to side. The shatterproof surface makes this toy safe for young children.

Band-in-a-Box: Auditory

Band-in-a-Box

Expose your child to different sounds through music! This kit includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle. Great for introducing new sounds to children with autism.

Economy Ball Pool: Tactile

Economy Ball Pool

Introduce a new texture to your child in a fun way. After they get used to just sitting in the balls, you could hide soft toys in the balls so they need to reach into them to further stimulate their sense of touch.

Dome Alone: Visual and Auditory

Dome Alone

Build sensory motor skills with this device. Music plays for auditory stimulation when activated by the switch. At the same time, lights illuminate brightly colored spinning pom-poms to keep your child’s attention.

Twirly Whirly: Visual and Auditory

Twirly Whirly

Colorful beads twist and fall for a fun visual, complimented by auditory stimulation from the spinners and clinking beads. This no-mess toy is easy to bring along in the car and when out and about. It can be turned, shaken, or rolled for a fun sensory experience.

Radiance Floor Lamp: Visual

Radiance Floor Lamp

This 40.5” lamp is filled with clear acrylic rocks that catch and bend the light. The LED lights slowly change color for a dazzling visual effect.

Rubber Massage Brushes: Oral Motor

Rubber Massage Brushes

Sometimes your child’s difficulty with eating might be due to the food’s texture and not its taste. Rubber massage brushes can desensitize the mouth and help fix oral issues. This makes it easier for your child to try different foods or brush his or her teeth.

Chewy Tubes: Oral Motor

Chewy Tubes

Chewy tubes can help kids with oral sensitivities. They can be used with over-sensitive kids to help develop biting skills. The tubes are also great for under-sensitive children looking for oral stimulation. They can be used to redirect the child from chewing on their clothes, nails, pencil erasers, and other objects.

Dentips: Oral Motor

Dentips

The tips of these sticks are coated with peppermint flavored dentifrice for cleaning the teeth. The Dentips can also be used for oral motor stimulation.

Economy Foam Balance Beam: Gross Motor

Economy Foam Balance Beam

This beam is great for improving balance in young children. The beam is 6” wide and made of foam for safe use. Excellent as a beginner’s balance beam!

Trampoline: Gross Motor

Trampoline

A great, safe alternative for children who crave motion and enjoy jumping on the bed. It can also help kids improve their body coordination.

Spin Disc: Gross Motor

Spin Disc

For children who love to spin, this disc offers a whirling experience. Sit, kneel, or lie down on this disc to have fun while improving coordination and balance. Or if your child has difficulties when their feet aren’t on the ground, this is a fun way to practice improving their skills.

Sling Seat: Gross Motor

Sling Seat

This swing is great because it mounts in a doorway and can be used indoors on rainy or snowy days. The sturdy seat holds up to 150 pounds. Ideal for under-sensitive children who need to swing to get sensory input.

Lace and Trace Shapes: Manipulatives

Lace and Trace Shapes

Children with autism who are over-sensitive in proprioception have difficulties with fine motor skills. Lacing boards help build this skill and improve dexterity. This set includes eight shapes.

Magnetic Catch a Fish Game: Manipulatives

Magnetic Catch a Fish Game

Ten colorful, removable sea creatures are included in this entertaining game. Your child can “fish” for the animals using a fishing pole with a magnet attached to the end. A good game for developing fine motor skills and visual perception.

Magnetic Pen Number Maze: Manipulatives

Magnetic Pen Number Maze

Build fine motor skills on-the-go.This 9” x 12” board is perfectly sized for travel. The magnetic wand is attached so it can’t get lost. Guide the apples into the baskets!

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Blanket: Deep Touch Pressure

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Blanket

A weighted blanket provides deep touch pressure, which is proven to release serotonin in the brain creating a calm, relaxing sensation. This makes the blankets great for calming children after a meltdown, during sensory overload, or to help them fall asleep.

Sensory Cuff and Pressure Vest: Deep Touch Pressure

Sensory Cuff and Pressure Vest

The constant pressure from this vest helps provide sensory stability. This vest is great for children who love hugging or squishing or are restless. It has a calming effect and can improve concentration while worn.

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Critters: Deep Touch Pressure

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Critters

These weighted animals can be place around your child’s shoulders or set on their lap to provide targeted deep pressure. The weight helps serve as a reminder to sit still and focus. It can also be calming during transitions between activities, like in a classroom at school. Four different animal friends are available: a caterpillar, a butterfly, a dinosaur, or a whale.

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Vest: Deep Touch Pressure

Tumble Forms 2 Weighted Vest

Weighted vests can help children with autism calm down. They may also be recommended to increase focus in the classroom or to help decrease stimming behavior. This vest is offered in plain blue or a colorful pattern.

Brushing and Joint Compression

You might have heard of another sensory integration therapy practice called sensory brushing and joint compression. Brushing, typically using the Wilbarger protocol, is sometimes used to desensitize the body. Sensory gloves using different tactiles are also occasionally used. Both of these therapies should be done by an occupational therapist and not at home.

Use these fun sensory toys to capture your child’s attention! Children with autism or Asperger's syndrome can get the sensory stimulation they need with these toys. Whether your child is hyporesponsive or hyperresponsive, these products can help with sensory integration.

References
National Autistic Society. (2016, March 18). Sensory differences. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2rpf68p

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.