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Autistic children need varying degrees of additional support in development areas including, but not limited to, communication, fine motor skills and empathy.
Previously grouped under the term Autism Spectrum Disorder, the main identifiable traits of autism are persistent deficits in social communication/interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, which includes sensory issues.
Focusing on learning through play, this selection of toys is for autistic kids of various ages and stages, depending on your child’s needs.
As always, children should be supervised when playing with toys.
Fisher-Price Stack & Discover Sensory Blocks, RRP $19.99 + shipping (6mths+)
The colourful, tactile plastic cubes are covered with beads, a mirror, cute characters and various textured fabrics for busy hands to explore.
Sea Life Mini Aquarium, RRP $49.95 (8yrs+)
This eye-catching toy doubles as a soothing and calming tool as the three little toy fish swim around the colourful waters.
Expanda Ball, RRP $9.95
This colourful tactile ball captivates kids when it’s opened up to its full size. Soft to touch and brightly coloured, it stimulates several senses and can also be used as a breathing ball to help tricky situations.
Eeeszy Peezy 3-in-1 Action Board, RRP $19 (3yrs+)
This sculptured scooter board is the ideal way to burn off excess energy. Designed to keep hands safely out of the way, it can be used to lie or kneel on, or as a pull-along. As an added bonus, it helps with balance and gross motor skills.
ELC Bubble Fish Flora, sale price $34.36, RRP $42.95 (3yrs+)
Fill Flora up with bubble mixture and hundreds of bubbles blow from her mouth. This is a fun outdoor distraction for kids of all ages – the bubbles are pretty to watch, and fun to try and pop.
Weighted Panda, RRP $55
Cuddling this 1.5kg weighted panda helps ground and calm a child without them realising. Other options are available, including a dog, cow, dinosaur and dragon.
Brick Stick Textured Chew Necklace, RRP $22.50
Designed for older kids who need to chew and understand this is not food or a toy, this necklace is one of a range that provides a discreet, wearable solution to sensory needs.
Colour Change Stress Ball, RRP $5.50 each
This classic stress-reliever is available in three colours that change when they are squished: pink to purple, blue to pink, and yellow to orange. The pressure needed an to squeeze the balls so it squirms between the fingers helps to channel pent-up emotions.
Starry Galaxy and Underwater World, $35.95
Projecting pretty colours and otherworldly themes across your child’s room, these projectors provide gentle sensory stimulation and calming focus for busy brains. The projector has three options: underwater featuring starfish and dolphins; galaxy featuring stars and moon; or a solid light that transitions through a rainbow of colours.
Weight Lap Blanket, $75 (5yrs+)
At approx 2kgs, this high-quality plush blanket has smooth and textured surfaces to keep busy fingers occupied. As well being lovely to cuddle, gentle pressure from beads inside is comforting and helps children focus and relax.
Pin Art Sensory Tool, RRP $29.95
Have fun pressing hands, faces or every day objects into the pinboard to see what impressions can be created. The plastic pins are good for sensory exposure and heaps of fun for kids to experiment with.
Giggly Zippies – Dress Me Up Animals, RRP $49 (2yrs+)
This little chap is packed fill of learning opportunties and exercise for fine motor skills. From zips and velcro, to buttons and shoe buckles, Giggle Zippies also have a cute wiggle when you give their tummies a squeeze.
Fairy Frolics Sensory Play Dough Kit, $48 (3yrs+)
Complete with two hand-painted fairy peg dolls, this scented kit includes handmade play dough with a wooden rolling pie and bamboo cutting knife, a mushroom fairy house and a selection of additions such as flowers, sticks, felt balls and pebbles.
Other kits include Surfers, Superheroes, Moon Landing and Dinosaurs.
Feel-a-Pair Touch Game, RRP $69.90 (3yrs+)
Start by putting the 32 wooden pieces into pairs according to colours and matching surfaces. Keep one of each pair out of the bag, then put you hand in and try to feel for a matching pair. This works on sensory skills, memory and perception and can be played solo or together.
Push Pop Bubble, RRP $10 each
The joy of bubble wrap in a toy! Busy hands will love pushing the buttons down, and turning over for endless popping. As well as being fun, tactile and sensory, it’s a calming toy that can help kids regain focus.
Colour by numbers for kids, RRP $14.95
For creative kids, these colour-by-number scenes of fairytale castles, mysterious creatures and more, help work fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination while creating colourful and imaginative stories.
Jurassic Dinosaur Play Sand and Slime Kit, $26.95 (6yrs+)
Ticking several boxes including sensory stimulation, tactile de-sensitising, creative and imaginative play, this project includes 2 x 62g galaxy slime, 1 x 500g sand, 12 dinosaurs and 2 trees.
Simpl Dimpl, $6.95 each (3ys+)
This textured fidget toy has its own carabiner so it can be attached to a bag, belt or strap for easy/discreet access. The silicone buttons provide a tactile stimulation that promotes calm and concentration.
Magnetic Writing & Drawing Board, RRP $30
A creative and fun challenge for fine motor skills, magnetic boards can encourage reluctant writers to learn words, numbers and more. Using a magnetic stylus, pick up the balls to place them into the holes and start creating!
Sensory Buckle Pillow, RRP $24.99
Keep idle hands busy and developing brains stimulated with this soft and squishy buckle pillow that is fun to play with while also building fine motor skills.
Thomas & Friends: Track Master and Sodor Steamies Trains, RRP $49.99 (3yrs+)
Thomas and his friends have long been synonymous with autistic children and this set is a gift that encourages creative play and engages fine motor skills.
As well as 12 high-quality, die-cast metal vehicles including Thomas, Nia, Percy, Harold the Helicopter, James and Emily, there wooden tracks and connectors to keep your child’s imagination engaged.
Social Skills Board Games, RRP $49.50
This set of six games is designed to help autistic work on morals, manners, empathy, friendship, showing emotions and managing emotions in positive, playful ways.
Mini Kit Mix-up, RRP $30
Choose from one of four mini kits featuring critters, a firefighter, a mermaid or safari scene and help your child create a world for the main character in the kit. Encourages imaginative play, fine motor skill development and communication skills.
Caring Cats – Kindness around town, RRP $29
A Mean Mouse is casting gloom on the usually happy Town of Charms! The Ministry of Pawsitivity calls upon five cats to help bring back the joy – using loving, sharing, kind and thoughtful acts.
Touch! My Big Touch-and-Feel Word Book, RRP 37.68
This fun book is a multi-sensory experience that features 150 words to learn. There are 30 touch-and-feel elements that help kids establish a link between textures (rough, smooth, soft) and words.
Magnetic Money Chart, RRP $19
A fantastic learning tool that teaches the basics of money, counting and how to give change, in a fun and interactive way. The magnetic backing makes attaching the chart to a fridge or whiteboard easy, which works well for kids who like to be on their feet.
Caterpillar Clutter – Game of Shoes, Memory and Shadow Objects, RRP $22.10
Catty Caterpillar has so many pairs of shoes it’s no wonder she needs help! This interactive game has kids memorising a selection of her 20 shoes before trying to collect as many of the pairs as they can think of. A fun game that also helps with visual awareness, shape recognition, language development and quick thinking.
Emotion Flashcards, RRP $24.95
This set of 40 feelings and emotions flashcards encourages language development, communication and conversation. There are four images for each of the following emotions – happy, sad, angry, surprised, frustrated, scared, worried, tired, silly and bored.
Reward Calendar, RRP $25
This is a great resource for supporting autistic children to work towards independence, by completing chores and other tasks in a cumulative and visually rewarding way.
How Am I Feeling Blocks, RRP $37.99 (12mths+)
This eight-block set features a different facial features on each side, which allows for up to 4,000 face combinations. It’s excellent for motor skills, and for non-verbal autistic kids or those learning to develop their emotions and communications skills.