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Exploring Sensory Play: Toys for Children with Autism

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Let’s admit it. Stress balls are secretly everyone’s favorite toy. I mean, who can resist the temptation to squish, squeeze, and smoosh these fun little orbs of stress relief? Sure, we might pretend to be all sophisticated and grown-up, but deep down, we’re all just big kids at heart. Now, for most of us, the pull of a stress ball might be fleeting, but for kiddos with autism, it’s a whole different story. For children on the autism spectrum, these simple toys offer a safe, tactile haven in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

What is an Autism Sensory Toy?

Autistic Girl Playing With Sensory Toy

So, what exactly are sensory toys? These are specially designed toys that engage one or more of the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. They come in all shapes, sizes, weights, and textures, catering to the unique sensory needs of children with autism. Whether it’s a squishy stress ball, a soothing sensory bottle, or a colorful set of magnetic blocks, these toys offer a world of exploration and discovery.

Are Sensory Toys Good for Kids with Autism?

Absolutely! Sensory toys are like little helpers that assist children with autism in various ways. They provide a safe space for them to explore and express themselves freely. Plus, they offer a range of benefits, from promoting relaxation to enhancing social skills. So, yes, sensory toys are not just good; they’re great for kids with autism!

How Sensory Toys for Autism Help Kids

Encourages Relaxation

Calming sensory toys help children unwind and calm down when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Enhances Focus

By engaging their senses, these toys help kids concentrate better and stay focused on tasks.

Reduces Fear

Certain sensory toys can help alleviate fears and anxieties, providing a sense of comfort and security.

Develops Social Skills

Through play, children learn valuable social skills like sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with others.

Makes Learning Fun

Most importantly, sensory toys turn learning into a playful adventure, sparking curiosity and creativity along the way!

What to Look For in Sensory Toys for Autistic Kids

When choosing sensory toys for your child, it’s essential to keep their unique needs and preferences in mind. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:

Be Mindful of Sensitivities

Avoid toys that may overwhelm your child with loud sounds or unfamiliar textures.

Identify Their Interests

Look for toys that align with your child’s interests and passions, whether it’s dinosaurs, trains, or outer space.

Encourages Social Interaction

Opt for toys that promote interactive play and encourage communication with others.

Keep It Simple

Choose toys that are easy to use and understand, based on your child’s age and developmental level.

What Toys Do Autistic Children Play With?

Autistic children enjoy a wide range of toys that cater to their unique sensory preferences. Here are some popular choices:

Jigsaw Puzzles

Perfect for improving problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.


These colorful building blocks provide endless opportunities for creativity and imagination.


Small, handheld toys that help children focus and relieve stress or anxiety. These are great stim toys!

Chew Toys

Designed for oral sensory seekers, these toys provide a safe outlet for chewing and biting.

Flash Cards

Great for teaching language, numbers, and other essential concepts in a fun and interactive way.

Magnetic Blocks

These versatile toys inspire STEM learning and encourage hands-on exploration.

Cloth Books

Soft and tactile, cloth books stimulate the senses and promote early literacy skills.

Squishy Stress Balls

Squeezable and satisfying, stress balls help children regulate their emotions and reduce tension.

Light-Up Toys

These sensory toys captivate children’s attention with vibrant lights and engaging visuals.


Moldable and squishy, putty offers a calming sensory experience and strengthens hand muscles.

Create Your Own DIY Sensory Toys:

Feeling crafty? Why not try making your own sensory toys at home? Here are a couple of simple DIY ideas to get you started:

Bean Bag Buddies

Fill socks with sand and tie them up to create cuddly bean bag buddies for tactile stimulation.

Sensory Bottles

Fill plastic bottles with water, food coloring, and glitter or gemstones to create mesmerizing sensory bottles for visual stimulation.

What Else is Helpful to Encourage Engagement with Autistic Children?

Beyond sensory toys, there are plenty of other ways to engage and connect with your child with autism:

Take Trips to Explore

Plan outings to parks, museums, zoos, or other sensory-friendly locations where your child can explore and discover new things

Play Group Sports

Encourage participation in group sports like dance, swimming, or track, which promote social interaction, teamwork, and physical activity.

Get Additional Support With Heartlinks ABA 

In conclusion, sensory toys play a vital role in supporting the development and well-being of children with autism. By understanding your child’s unique sensory needs and preferences, you can choose the perfect toys to engage, inspire, and empower them. So, the next time you pick up a stress ball or marvel at a sensory puzzle, remember the incredible impact it has on the lives of those it touches, and remember, if you’re looking for additional support, Heartlinks ABA is here to help! Check out our range of ABA therapy services and resources to support your child’s journey. Let’s create a world where every child can thrive, one sensory toy at a time!

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