Which fidget toys are helpful for children with autism
Finding ways to support your child at home is a fantastic way to help them but knowing where to start is often overwhelming. All children learn through play, and children with autism are no different. The key is to find the right supports and opportunities for them to benefit from play, whilst having fun doing it and taking into consideration their sensory needs.
Children with autism can find processing everyday sensory experiences difficult, so a toy that is beneficial for children with autism will increase or decrease stimulation to help engage senses or let them focus on one sensation. These kinds of aids can be helpful for both children and adults who are hypersensitive or hypo-sensitive to stimulants.
Fidget toys are often recommended by occupational therapists to provide the right amount of sensory input. They can help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD
or autism to concentrate by helping them to filter out extra sensory information that would otherwise be distracting.
Sensory toys are designed to improve focus, relieve nervous energy, reduce anxiety, and reduce sensory and psychological stress. They can provide relief in stressful or high-pressure situations.
The right fidget toys for children with sensory considerations, and children with ADHD, will help them remain calm, de-stress and divert or engage their focus, as well as provide the sensory experience they need. They will benefit children on the autism spectrum because they can help them engage with their senses, provide feedback to their sensory systems, and regulate their sensory needs. For more information on How do fidget toys help?, read our article here: How do fidget toys help
Different types of fidget toys
Fiddle and fidget toys come in all different shapes, sizes, colours and textures. They can be connected, twisted, snapped and clicked – encouraging exploration and manipulation. Any toy that has moving parts or enticing textures is great. Please note that due to some fidget toys containing small parts, not all are suitable for children ages 3 and under.
Our Edx Education UK fidget toy pack of 100 Fidget Cubes or Edx Education USA fidget toy pack of 100 Fidget Cubes are ideal! A pack includes 10 colours and 5 different shapes; circle, square, triangle, pentagon and hexagon. These sensory fidget cubes link together and connect with a satisfying ‘click’ as you feel them ‘snap’ together. You can build them up, over, down or out so you can create endless 2D and 3D shapes, matching the shapes and creating patterns.
Finding the right fidget toy will keep hands busy whilst helping to develop fine motor skills, tactile awareness, concentration, plus visual perception skills including colour and size discrimination.
Rainmaker toys can offer both auditory and visual benefits. These fun toys are often colourful, with lots of vibrant beads inside that children can watch fall and dance as they make soothing rain sounds. The white noise-like sound can offer a preferable audible experience for those that are overwhelmed by loud or intricate music where lots of different sounds are present.
Sand and slime are great for those that are intrigued by different experiences with touch, and can be both relaxing and offer an outlet for creativity. Playing with new textures offers a varied sensory experience that children can explore at their own pace. Here at Edx Education we have various trays that are perfect for activities like these: our Fun2 Play Activity Tray or our Circular Sand and Water Tray.
Why not try our Sensory Ocean idea, it is a great sensory play activity for all ages – sometimes going big with your sensory play set up can make the play that bit more exciting. That’s exactly what we did, and the kids loved it!
Children with sensory seeking needs may enjoy activities that encourage movement, such as trampolining or our whizzy dizzy, which is great exercise as well as being fun. This also works on the vestibular and proprioceptive senses – beneficial for many children with autism.
Children who are hypersensitive to different textures may find it hard to enjoy art as it often involves getting messy. Geo Stampers are a ‘clean’ outlet for creative expression, allowing children with sensory issues the opportunity to exercise their creativity and imaginations like their neurotypical peers.
Some fidget tools have smooth or soft surfaces to promote calm and eliminate anxiety. You might want to avoid fidget spinners because these can be visually distracting and possibly overstimulate.
Homemade musical instruments are a great addition and fun to make. Ideas include making shakers from filled plastic bottles with rice or dried beans, rattles from thread buttons or beads onto some string, drums from plastic tubs and wooden spoons to bash, and chimes where you hang up some bottle tops or shells.
All children love frozen toys! You will need to prepare this activity a day ahead. Find a large plastic box, quarter fill it with water, put some toys in and freeze. Simple. Or you can add more layers with some colouring if you wish. The children then have to get the toys out of the ice, using a selection of tools including spray bottles with warm water in, toy hammers etc.
At first, try an activity for just one of the five senses – touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Go gently and evaluate what works well, and what should be avoided. Then add in more experiences as you go. Remember, too, that sensory activities will be beneficial for all of the children in your care, not just those diagnosed with (or displaying indications of) autism.
For home learning toys for different age groups, abilities and developmental stages, view our full range here:
Edx Education – Heather Welch
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