If you have a toddler diagnosed with autism, these are some of the Best Educational Toys for Autism in Toddlers to help them develop and grow in their own unique way.
When it comes to receiving an early diagnosis of autism, many parents are overwhelmed and confused, and maybe even relieved. I know because I’ve been there before when my now 16 year old daughter received her autism diagnosis and I felt all of these things, including an overwhelming need to “help” her however I could.
Knowing the early signs of autism in toddlers is just one of the keys. Knowing what to do can also help give you a sense of control–that you’re doing what you can to help your child as they face this challenge.
Sometimes just knowing what types of toys for autistic toddlers to buy can help you feel like you are doing SOMETHING, which is really the best you can do to help process your own feelings about the diagnosis.
Sure, you more than likely have toys on hand already but here are a few educational toddler toys that could be beneficial for a toddler that was recently diagnosed with autism.
The Best Educational Toys for Autism in Toddlers
Some of my favorite brands of toys for toddlers with autism are made by Melissa & Doug and Fisher Price. But it’s not about the brand of toy, but more about what the toy’s features are and how they help your child develop.
And if you can make some of these toys, please feel free. Some of them are not overly complex, but others are maybe not DIY. Either way, though, if you need to buy toys, or if you have grandparents asking what they can buy your autistic child for Christmas or birthdays, this list of the best educational toys for autistic toddlers is a great resource to send them to.
Fine Motor Skills Toys for Autistic Children and Toddlers
Toys that help work on fine motor skills and coordination are a huge help for toddlers in general. But, fine motor skills-building toys for toddlers with autism may have even more benefits. Often, fine motor skills are delayed in an autistic toddler. Because of that, having toys that help with fine motor skills are highly beneficial.
And they don’t have to be some fancy-dancy mess, just toys such as:
- Latch and Hooks
- Cause and Effect (as the noise may also be rewarding)
- Play Dough or Slime
Some of these can even be DIY projects, that you make for your kiddo. Again, they don’t have to be fancy. There are some DIY tutorials for even making your own latch and hook boards as well as puzzles and button boards.
You don’t have to overcomplicate it, but if you want to help your kiddo, intentionally choosing toys that work on their fine motor skills is certainly not going to hurt.
Imaginative Play Toys for Autistic Toddlers
Educational toys that also stimulate the imagination and pretend play may be helpful. This allows your autistic toddler to play out social situations in their head and with you (because play with you is important, even if you’re playing independently side-by-side), letting them work through the “problem” and find the solutions.
Imaginative play toys for toddlers on the spectrum can be things like:
You can also include a set of dress-up clothes and accessories. Just like a neurotypical toddler, autistic toddlers like to play dress-up and learn to understand their world through pretend play.
Interactive Toys for Toddlers with Autism
Interactive toys are some of the best educational and fun toys for a child. They usually stimulate and entertain the child so that they can learn while having fun. With an autistic toddler, they may also latch on to certain things with the toys. This is called stimming and yes, it is a typical behavior for people with autism.
In fact, I’ll even bring up the dreaded fidget spinner.
Yes, I know, some parents are very much against them.
However, for a child on the spectrum, a fidget spinner can help with focusing. You, as a parent, should use your best judgement in this situation of course.
Other interactive toys an autistic toddler might like and benefit from include:
- Ball Poppers
- Gear Spinners
- Magnetic Drawing Boards
- Learning Piggy Bank
- Stacking Pegs
- Light-up Mushrooms
- Activity Cube
You can’t really make these safely, because they have electrical components, unless, of course, you design and build electronic children’s toys on the regular. But if you have grandparents asking what gifts they can get your autistic toddler, these are great for adding to that list.
Gross Motor Toys for Autistic Children
Other toys to consider for kids with autism include those that work more on the bigger muscle movements, too. Here’s some of my favorite toys for autistic children:
- Pushing/Pulling or Filling/Emptying like:
- Gross Motor Tools like what you’d find at an occupational therapist’s office such as:
Other Toys Toddlers with Autism Might Like
Toddlers are curious and love to touch and look at everything in their world, which is actually developing their hand-eye coordination, so it’s really great. So, feel free to make things “interesting” by picking toys that feel different and are bright.
Action toys, cause and effect toys and any activity that challenges their minds are always favorites and end up being sensory toys to stimulate their sensory input, so they’re perfect toys for children with autism.
Shape sorters, which are colorful and interesting, can keep a child entertained for hours and develop essential skills for an autistic child that help them understand patterns and solve problems.
Stacking blocks, simple puzzles and any toys that pop up are also high on the list of fun and educational toys for autistic kids for that same reason: problem solving is actually a superpower of many people affected by the autism spectrum disorder.
Older young children can have fun with colorful fridge magnets, books that feature sounds and songs and other interactive toys. Any sorts of fanciful play sets, such as garages, airports and dollhouses, can also be popular and educational ways for your child to learn about the world around them and actually help them develop social skills.
Touch and feel board books play a crucial role in the development of toddlers. These interactive books provide sensory stimulation, allowing children to explore different textures, shapes, and colors. By engaging multiple senses, touch and feel board books enhance cognitive development, fine motor skills, and sensory integration. The tactile experience encourages curiosity, sensory exploration, and language development as toddlers learn to associate words with textures.
Word of Caution When Buying Toys for Toddlers with Autism
Be mindful, of course, that your toddler is likely going to put things in their mouth. You’ll still want age-appropriate toys that don’t have a lot of small parts.
My daughter, for example, had extreme PICA when she was younger. She was constantly mouthing non-food items and she had to be watched constantly. While she still has some issues with PICA, it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.
One of the key things to keep in mind here: your toddler is still a toddler. Your child is a still a child. Just now, they happen to have an autism diagnosis.
Love them, unconditionally.
And hang in there moms & dads. Everything will work out fine.
If you are need of additional help or free resources, be sure to take a look at these free Daily Routine Printable and their caregivers.