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Play is an important part in the care of a special needs child. When a child plays, it helps her to understand the world around her, it helps her to learn how to interact with others and it promotes growth and development. Toys play a huge role in this realm of play and choosing the right toys will reinforce all that the child learns from caregivers and health providers. For this blog I will focus on toys for autistic kids and why it is vital to their health and development.
The 5 senses and the autistic child
Children with autism have difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction and play activities. This is because the part of their brain that processes sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and touch (the 5 senses) has been affected and has caused “a neurological disorder.”
These 5 senses that we all have, are necessary in helping us to understand, explore and experience things in our world. Children who are autistic cannot use these senses the same way and so it changes their way of reaction, communication and assessment of the world around and how they interact with everything.
Therapy includes sensory toys
An important part of therapy for the child with autism is speech-language therapy. There are devices that therapists use to help with communication and socialization skills and those devices are usually called “communication boards or speech-generator devices.” You can find out more about these communication devices in my article titled Children and Asperger’s Syndrome. It is so important to help the child with autism communicate because they, like everyone else, need to be able to express their emotions, needs and wants. It is when they are unable to do this, they will end up having a meltdown.
Therapists will work with you to show you how to help your child with the communication device so that you can continue working with your child at home. Repetition is the key to learning and that goes for everyone.
Another very important part of therapy is play! Sensory toys are one of the best ways to help your child calm down and focus on one particular thing and it helps to build nerve connections in the brain.
So what are sensory toys? Sensory toys are designed to target stimulation of the 5 senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. These toys are usually made with bright colors and have different sounds and textures.
You know your child best, so choose toys that you know he or she will be interested in and what will hold his or her attention. Sensory toys not only calm your child but with them, your child is learning how to think, how to problem solve, how to share, how to get along and interact with others.
Kids 6 years old and up
For children 6 years and up, there is a great game called Brain Games by Skillmatics (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).
Brain Games consists of 12 highly engaging and repeatable activities which build core skills through learning. The set has 6 double-sided activity mats, an erase marker pen, duster cloth, and an achievement certificate. This game set teaches key skills of strategizing, problem-solving, social and communications skills, observation, and concentration. Your child with achieve through play, solving equations, decoding patterns, mental maths, trial and error.
For kids 3 to 6 years old
For children 3 to 6 years old, Skillmatics Boredom Buster (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases) consists of 6 double-sided activity mats, dry erase marker, duster cloth, achievement certificate and makes a great sensory toy for your young child.
This set also has 12 repeatable activities which teach logical reasoning, creative thinking, writing, focus and attention, and observation. Your child is going to have fun while learning key concepts. It is perfect for kids to bond with their friends and family.
For kids 3 years old and up
The Squigz toys are suction construction toys that stick to each other and nearly any flat surface. They pull apart with a pop.
There are a variety of shapes and colors, regular and mini-sized and there are 75 pieces in this set. This will stimulate your child’s imagination, interaction and aids in the development of motor skills, hand-eye coordination, visual thinking and concentration.
For kids 5 years old and up
Nothing beats a Classic set of LEGOs for stimulating creativity. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).
The classic 450 piece building kit includes a colorful selection of LEGO bricks and pieces including eyes, wheels, hinges and a wide assortment of LEGO windows and doors.
For toddlers 12 to 36 months
ANIMAL ISLAND AILA Sit & Play Plus Preschool Learning and Reading System is a high-quality educational sit and play virtual early preschool learning system. This looks like a miniature computer for toddlers. The educational content is developed by teachers and innovators that adapts to each child’s learning style.
This learning system teaches songs, stories, communications, collaboration, art, problem solving, literacy and numbers.
It uses animal friends to say hello, sing, read, dance, stop and talk and play games.
Animal Island Learning Adventure (AILA) has an “AILA Parent App” for you to adjust and monitor session time and device settings; rate your child’s session; parent dashboard; check in on your little one while AILA Sit & Play is in use; and here is a really cool feature – you can send pictures or videos from your smartphone directly to the AILA Sit & Play and Mister Goose delivers your pictures and videos as mail to your child. How cool is that?
There are so many high quality and great sensory toys and games for every child. I have only listed a few above and in future articles, I will be recommending more for you to check out. Just click on the links above for each toy and you can find out more about them and go ahead and purchase them too.
Each of the toys listed above are considered sensory toys and will stimulate growth and development for your child as well as bring a sense of calm and contentment.
Questions or comments?
Please leave me your questions or comments in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!
Yours in searching the best for our babes,