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Most of the time toys are an easy thing to buy. You check out what’s popular, make sure they’re interested in it, purchase and done. With kids with autism it can be a whole different process though. Most of us have a relative or friend with a diagnosed autistic child, so I thought I’d write a post on some of our best purchases for our two autistic kids.
The majority of the time with verbal ASD children it’s pretty easy to know what they like. Usually there is something that they are obsessed with at the moment and lots of them outright tell you what they want. But if it’s a child you don’t get to see very often it can be a lot harder. This is a list of toys that you can buy no matter what they’re obsessed with, and they’re parents will love you for it!
I’m a big believer in STEM toys, especially for our ASD son. He loves to take things apart and has from a very young age. He is high-functioning with an above average IQ and below average emotional intelligence. Here’s what has topped his list of favourites in this year and the last few.
Every photo in this post is a link you can click through for prices and more information.
ASD age 9 and up:
- Elenco Snap Circuits
These are AWESOME! Click on the above photo to see prices and reviews. Sir.E has this kit, which is his favourite. He also has the Motion Kit, The Rover and The SC 300 kits which is the one he started out with. These encourage instruction following, which is great with ASD kids, thinking ahead, fine motor skills and they are really fun! If you have a younger child and are interested in this I would suggest starting out with the Jr. set. This is a set to teach kids all about how circuits work and how electricity travels. All of the circuits are contained in snap on pieces which makes it easy to use and totally safe. They use a lot of AA batteries unless you get the battery eliminator, totally worth the price.
- Lego Creator 3 in 1
Sir. E has been a big fan of these for a long time. Like many ASD kiddos, he likes to build his lego exactly as the instructions say to, and than put it on a shelf for no one to touch. He loves these because the instructions tell him how to build the set 3 different ways. This encourages him to use his imagination more and see different ways of doing things. Lego is also a great product to foster social skills, which most parents of ASD kids are always looking for. The photos are links to a small cheaper set, a middle set and a more pricey option :). But there are SO many different 3 in 1 sets, take a peak around through the links in the pictures.
My son is in LOVE with these two right now. The first set of colourful ones are marble bag fidgets. According to Sir.E, the different colours represent different smooth and rough textures, purple and red being the most rough (I think) and blue and yellow being the least rough (I think..), he said green and pink are somewhere in the middle. These bags are mesh and have a marble that you move around inside them, the best part, totally SILENT! Actually, my dad and hubby love these as well I most often see Sir.E with one in his pocket. The next photo is a “tumble stick”. That’s what Sir.E calls it. He got 3 of these 2 weeks ago when we were on a trip and played with them the ENTIRE trip. These are not silent. You flip them across a hard surface and when the vertical end hits the surface they light up. Very addicting, I even like to use them and so do all our kids. These really are good for any age above 3.
ASD age 6-9:
Ok, honestly, this set is awesome for 4 and up too. My girls play with this non-stop! It’s awesome for encouraging imaginative play, learning about the world around you, counting and following instructions and it’s GREAT for teaching social skills. The box sets up into a little order window on one side and a pretend kitchen on the other. It comes with a bell for “order up”, a dry erase board for the specials, a dry erase card for taking orders, play money, a menu, play food and dishes, a chef hat, and a waitress apron. It’s the cutest set ever and we’ve had it for 2 years and it’s still in perfect shape!
5.KidKraft Play Kitchen
If your looking to splurge, this is the thing to splurge on. We got a kidkraft kitchen for all three of our kids about 2 years ago and it was one of the best purchases we ever made. All of three of our kids love it, EVEN Sir.E and they still ALL use almost every day. We have the sweet treats model, which is different than the one above, I’m not sure if it’s still available but you could look through the photo link above and find out. These foster imaginative play, turn taking, social skills, life skills, safety skills and TONS more. Plus, they are wood and REALLY sturdy. I love that they aren’t made out of plastic and they come in a great variety of styles and colours. Sir.E uses this with his friends which I was surprised about, but all the kids who come to our house love using this.
I know, right?! My mom got this set for the kids a little while ago and it’s awesome. This is a big set, you can get little sets from around $10 Canadian to sets this size and bigger. Just click the photo and search for more! This set comes with the pens which are great, and the putty to hold the different pieces down, which is super helpful if you child chooses a design that requires lots of pieces. This is SO fun, my mom bought them a set of rainbow pens to go with it, which is a great idea. Sir.E and Little Miss Psychopath LOVE the patterns and designs they can create, plus it’s great for fine motor skills practice, social skills, turn taking, instruction following and for building up patience.
ASD ages 2-5
7.Melissa and Doug Dress up play
I could honestly list SO many different things for this age group! They need to be learning so many important skills at this age that require play! It’s a fun age for ASD kids, minus the meltdowns :). These costumes are well worth the little bit of extra price. We have had ours for almost 3 years and nothing has ripped so far and all the velcro and snaps have held up. They come in great little bags with hangers to keep everything together and they have a big variety. Plus the accessories are adorable and they’e included every little detail to help with social and life skills, imaginative play and learning about community helpers.
8. Pre-school age approved board games
Little Miss Psychopath has all of these and loves all of them because they don’t require reading so it’s easy for her to build confidence and participate. Feed the woozle is down right hilarious. It builds gross motor skill, imagination, encourages independence, teaches turn taking and is great for teaching them how to behave when it doesn’t work out. If you haven’t introduced the ASD child in your life to Pete the Cat yet, you must! The Pete the cat game involves counting up and down and I’ve found it helpful for teaching positive attitudes. Pups in training is a huge hit with Little Miss Psychopath right now because, 1, it involves Paw Patrol haha, and 2 it’s actually quite fun to play. It’s always her first choice when we play together and she actually beats me on a consistent basis. It teaches turn taking, imaginative skills, fine motor skills and patience!
9. Finger puppets
So much fun! This set is great because it has stands so if your little won’t put them on their fingers yet, it’s something you can work up to. These are so awesome for teaching all sorts of things from behaviour and social skills to turn taking and imagination. I love this theatre too, it’s so cute!
Ok, so I may have complained in the past about having to vacuum ALL the time because Little Miss Psychopath is obsessed with Play-doh, but it is awesome. For kids with sensory issues it’s a great teaching tool, and in general you can teach so much with it. We have both these sets and probably ten others. All our kids like the dentist set, they think it’s hilarious that you can pull his teeth out after you’ve made them. Little Miss Psychopath likes sets that come with moulds as I think most pre-school aged kids do. The great thing about it for ASD is that there can’t really be very many rules, so it helps them to leave that black and white thinking for a little bit. It’s also great for holding their attention for more than a minute because there is SO much you can do with it.
Hope this list helped you with some ideas for the ASD kid in your life!