A Complete Guide to Buying the Best Autism Toys for Your Child with Special Needs
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an individual's thinking, feeling, learning, communication, and social interaction ability throughout their life.
Since the children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulties in imagination, public interactions, and verbal and nonverbal communication, it gets quite challenging at times to understand their needs and desires. However, as a caregiver, it is your job to provide them with all the necessary amenities they require to live a better life.
When it comes to kids with autism, every parent wants to go all the way in order to make their day better, especially during the holidays. However, one of the biggest issues that many parents and caregivers face is getting their child the perfect gift, as s/he doesn't always give a proper response.
In this article, we will be discussing some pro tips and tricks that will help you buy the best toys for your autistic child.
12 Effective Tips for Buying the Best Autism Toys
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differs from person to person regardless of their age. It can even be found in infants and toddlers. Signs of autism in babies start showing from a very early stage. They face difficulties in making motor movements, facial expressions, and communication.
So, to help them tackle their day-to-day challenges, play-based learning can be implemented as a good alternative to conventional learning. If the children with ASD play with toys, it can help them improve their language, social interaction, sensory-motor, and analytical skills.
Study shows that children learn better when they are taught through play. So, buying your kids the ideal autism toys can go a long way to develop their overall condition.
Here are some points to consider when buying the right autism toys for your child –
Be Sure to Ask
When it comes to their cognitive development, self-image matters a great deal to children with autism. If they feel like baggage, it can have serious long-lasting effects on their mental state. So, it's always better to ask for their opinion even if they don't always respond.
When you ask your child what they want, you immediately put them on a higher pedestal which makes them feel better and not like a burden to others.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often don't tend to respond as they don't like the way the questions are phrased. Therefore, you should ask them in a different way, since changing the way you ask will allow them to understand better.
Be Mindful of Nonverbal Communication
When caring for a child communicating in a non-traditional way, you should remember that not all communication is verbal. Many children convey their interest for certain toys or activities through sheer repetition, while others like to pinpoint their preferences based on the surrounding environment
When it comes to doing what they love, all children diagnosed with ASD have their own choices. While some might like playing on their iPads or with their princess castles, others might like reading books and listening to music.
Try to look for ways to supplement the objects you know your child already loves. For instance, if they like listening to music, get them a new Bluetooth speaker or headphones. If they like playing with castles, get them a new doll for their castle
These little nonverbal indicators can really help you give your child an ideal gift.
Be Mindful of Selective Preferences
Most children with ASD find their niche in a very specific and focused way. Their selective preferences can help you better understand the kind of gifts they will fixate on. Some of them like Legos and video games, while others prefer action figures and castles.
One of the most efficient ways to expand their likings onto different outlets is to introduce them to newer yet similar toys. For instance, if your children love The Wiggles, you can get them Wiggles dolls, coloring books, clothing, CDs or DVDs.
If they like video games, you can get them similar interactive games. If they like dogs or swimming, you can give them games that are dog-related and activities that involve water like water tables, sprinkler toys, water beads, & grow capsules.
Be Mindful of Age and Mental Development
Keeping your child's personal preferences in mind is a good start to buying the most ideal gift for them. However, you should also keep the age appropriateness in mind while selecting the gift.
Your children might like playing with shape sorters, but considering that your child is a teen and the toy is meant for toddlers,look for other similar toys that they can play with more appropriate for them like Jenga or piggy bank.
Another factor to consider when buying a gift for your loved one is their mental development. Before buying the ideal gift, you should know what your child is capable of.
For instance, if your child is a nonverbal teen, the game “Apples to Apples” would not be the right fit for him. However, focusing on his strengths and giving him a gift that directly corresponds with his ability would be a more perfect fit.
Be Mindful of Behavioral Triggers
Oftentimes, some children with ASD get involved in occurrences that put them and their families at risk. Certain environmental stressors surrounding them triggers their underlying aggressive behavior.
So, when buying a gift, make sure it doesn't stress or trigger your child's behavior in any way.
Being aware of their conditions will help you choose better gifts. For instance, since many children often engage in pica, gifts containing small objects should not be given.
Under no circumstances should a child with autism be given any gift that contains violent content as it might trigger aggressive behavior.
Get a Second Opinion
When it comes to buying the right gift for your child with special needs, getting a second opinion can really set things in the right perspective. Since you will not get all the details about your child in their daily school report, you have to find out how they are like and what their preferences are at school.
Most children's routines often vary, based on the venue and environment, they hardly talk about their interests at school when they are home. However, to know more about their interests at school, you can start by asking the teachers and therapists what kind of toys and activities your child likes.
If you can provide them with toys or activities they already like at school available in a new setting at home, it will be very helpful for them.
Consider Buying Calming Gifts
Since most children with ASD have lower sensory thresholds than regular kids, giving them calming gifts can really make them feel better. Some of the sensory calming gifts include – vibrating play-boards & pillows, mini bubble tubes, liquid timers, rhythmic motion lamps, laser stars, and moonlight.
Many children with ASD are extremely sensitive to touch. It is wise not to give them any off-the-shelf clothes right away as those can be scratchy and feel like sandpaper on their skin. Focus on buying identical clothing that feels calming and provides comfort when worn.
Consider Buying Sensory Gifts
Sensory gifts that redirect certain behaviors in a more appropriate way and can really help children with sensory-seeking behaviors. You should buy sensory toys and tools to create a relaxing, satisfying, and sensory-friendly safe space for your little one.
Other sensory gifts may include – weighted blankets, cocoon type bean-bag chairs, swing, play putty, fidget set, Pin Art, waterbed, stereo sets, bubble tower, soft-colored lights, and the Tangle Therapy.
You can still search anytime for other sensory tools and toys online to find the best sensory gift for your child which will benefit them.
Consider Buying Interactive Gifts
Since most children with ASD lack the ability to socially interact properly, giving them a gift that promotes social interaction can really help improve their condition.
These days, almost all activities can be turned into socially interactive. However, some activities are more conducive to social interaction than others.
For instance, the game “Bop It” is more interactive than other computer games as it can be played in a group.
Another popular option for a calming and/or sensory gift can be a Worry Pet. This is one that you can crochet quite easily on your own with the basic amigurumi stitches (magic ring, single crochet, increase, decrease)! The Worry Pet is perfect as a fidget toy for children with autism who have sensory and anxiety needs. They can carry this soft, pocket-sized pet around and keep them close by to hold or rub when they experience worries or emotional regulation difficulties. Adding poly-pellets in this pet can help it have a weighted feel, and give some comforting sensory input when rubbing between fingers. The tactile sensation make it an especially helpful coping tool to help students who struggle with social-emotional coping skills.
Consider Buying Redundant Gifts
Many children with ASD often have a niche towards some specific things and are closely bonded to them. Any breaks or wear outs of these items can trigger a very emotional response from them, which is not good for their mental well-being.
As a parent, you have to make sure that the toys that your child is very close to, are in good condition. If by any chance they lose it, make sure to get them an exact new one. One thing to understand here is, although giving them redundant gifts might not seem like fun, they are surely helpful.
Consider Buying Unconventional Gifts
When it comes to kids with autism, one can never know what they truly want. Their needs can vary from time to time. Sometimes, they might like playing with sand; other times, they might not. Their surroundings impact a lot of their decisions.
So, as a parent, it's your job to be as unconventional as their needs. When they want something rather unusual, don't be afraid to give them that. Don't falter just because it doesn't seem to be what everyone else would consider a traditional gift.
At the end of the day, it is your child's satisfaction which truly matters. What might seem unconventional to others can bring bundles of joy to your little one.
Consider Buying Cause & Effect Gifts
Most children with ASD suffer from low self-esteem from a very early age for being unable to communicate properly. A possible solution to this can be cause and effect toys. These toys teach children that they have the ability to influence their surroundings and, in turn, increase their self-esteem.
Cause and effect toys provide immediate feedback and feature simple repetitive functions that can be accessed by taking turns. These toys also help increase children's social interaction ability. Some of the best toys include – Lollipopters, Sound Puzzles, Klickity, and Dimpl
Any child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can live a better life if given the right support and tools at the right time. With the help of newer assistive toys, they can overcome their boundaries and come up on top.
The whole idea behind gifting your child a toy or an accessory is to provide them delight and teach them newer skills while honing their previously acquired ones. So, don't hold back, follow the above guidelines, and give your little one the best gift he could possibly ask for.