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How Do Sensory Toys Help Autism?

How Do Sensory Toys Help Autism?

A person with autism may have trouble processing the things they see, taste, touch, hear and smell. Their sensory perceptions can be scary and painful, leading to heightened anxiety and meltdowns. If you have a little one with autism, it may be worth trying some sensory toys for autism for them to play with.

What Are Sensory Toys?

Sensory toys are designed to stimulate kids’ five senses of sight, taste, touch, sound and smell in an enjoyable way. Sensory toys have bright colours, engaging sounds or fun textures.

rainbow sensory shapes

Sensory Issues

The two sensory issues that affect children with autism are hyper-sensitivities and hypo-sensitivities. Both sensitivities affect how kids process and react to different types of stimuli.

Hyper-Sensitive Children

This means that kids are overly responsive to stimulants. They may suffer from sensory overloads from loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells. Sensory toys are ideal for helping hypersensitivity.

Hypo-Sensitive Children

This means that kids are under-responsive to senses and stimulants. A hypo-sensitive child may have a low sensitivity to pain and be under-responsive to things that affect their physical coordination and balance. Sensory toys that encourage physical skills are great for hypo-sensitive children.

How Are Sensory Toys Used For Autism?

Sensory toys used for autism help youngsters to focus, calm down, relax and de-stress. They are designed for children to learn more about their senses in a playful way, helping them to better understand how to manage them.

Ellen’s Journey and Best Sensory Toys for Autism

We spoke with Mum & content creator, Ellen, from @baby_olivers_journey to find out more about her family and her sons’ autism journey.

Tell Us About Your Family And Journey So Far

I’m mum to three boys: Joshua, Declan and Oliver. Joshua (aged 13) has a full autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) in place. He goes to a mainstream school but has one-to-one support. Oliver (aged 21 months) is just at the beginning of his ASD journey.

How Did You Notice The Early Signs Of Autism In Your Children?

With Joshua, I was completely oblivious. As bad as it sounds, I had no idea there was anything “wrong” with him. He was just Joshua. It wasn’t until he started primary school that his traits were picked up. With Oliver, it was the complete opposite. I knew from him being around 8 months old that there was something there. It was the little things like his struggles with eating and developmental delays etc.

What’s Your Best Advice For A Family Starting Their Autism Journey?

Don’t give up! There were so many hurdles put in my way with Joshua because of funding and cutbacks. It was a really tough 12 months for me but was obviously worth it in the end to get his EHCP.

What Are Your Best Sensory Toys For Autism?

Both my boys hate things that are “wet” so things like slime and water play are no good for them. Oliver likes things that make noises and he LOVES lights! Joshua is obsessed with things like fidget toys and things he can mess with to keep his mind occupied.

What Are The Benefits Of Sensory Toys For Children With Autism?

For Joshua, it helps to keep him preoccupied. If he’s having a stressful day, he will just sit on his sofa and de-stress with his fidget toys - such as NeeDoh stress balls or NeeDoh fruit. It takes his mind off what’s happened and calms him down!

needoh swirlNeedoh fruit

What Kind Of Sensory Toys Are Best For Toddlers With Autism?

I think that completely varies on the child! Every child with autism has different stimulation senses and the most important thing to do is to find your child’s. For some it’s lights, for others it’s texture or noise. You will know what works with your child already most likely, so work around that. Don’t pressure your child into something they don’t like.

What Do You Put In A Sensory Kit?

Oliver had a sensory kit as a baby and he loved the ribbons! I used to dangle them over his face and he loved being tickled. He also had a bouncy spiked ball that lit up and he was obsessed with that.

Buy Sensory Toys for Autism

Use the code OLIVERSJOURNEY to get 10% off any of our sensory toys!


Thank you so much for sharing this Ellen. It is brave and helpful to other mums out there in this situation. Lovely family.

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