Children who have been diagnosed with autism have difficulty appropriately displaying their emotions, interacting with other children and adults, and expressing their feelings. Having structured play time with therapeutic toys can help children with autism to learn to overcome these deficits. There are many websites that offer different types of therapeutic toys to be used for this purpose. These would be great additions to the pre-kindergarten and elementary level special education classrooms. Many of these different toys are eligible items to be included in various grant funded opportunities for special education students.
KidScope Toys sells toys for students with autism. They have toys that help with educational goals, therapy goals, and general toys for children with autism. Some of the toys help the children build both fine and gross motor skills, and some of the toys help to build play skills. The specific toys that help children to express their emotions are included under the category of social skills, emotional regulation, and language and communication.
The toys in these categories help the students to communicate their feelings through play. The social skills toys include dolls that can interact with the child and books about social skills that students can read with a parent or teacher. The language and communication toys include toys like interactive calendars, books on feelings, reward and responsibility charts, and a play tea set. The play tea set is a great toy for children with autism to play with to learn skills like sharing, asking questions, and responding in a non-threatening environment. The emotional regulation toys include tactile toys like stuffed animals, timers, small playground style toys. One toy that I found particularly interesting was a small hand-held textured (and colorful) twisting toy. This is a toy that a child with autism could use to help them to work through anxiety and difficult social situations.
Step Forward 123
On the website for Step Forward 123, they offer many different toys that help students to build motor and social skills. One of the most popular products that this site offers is therapy balls. The balls come in various sizes and help children to learn balance and coordinator, as well as being able to work with the different colors and textures. The children’s play sets by this include colorful sets of foam blocks that can be arranged into different ways. Children can role play while learning social skills and interacting with other students in a non-threatening way.
Special Needs Toys
Special Needs Toys has toys for children with a variety of disabilities. All of the toys would be helpful for children with autistic, especially toys in the sections about communication and socialization. The toys in the communication section ranges widely from toys that are used for speech therapy to art and music kits that allow children to express their feels through sound and color. There are also magnetic communication kits that involve a series of emotions, home activities, facial expressions, and behavior magnets. The socialization toys include games where the child would interact with other children or adults in a play-based manner. There are also dolls and stuffed animals that can be used with the child to play and display appropriate behaviors from a toy that will not judge the child. The last set of toys in this section are tactile toys to increase the child’s sensory responses.
All of these toys would make great additions to the elementary special education classroom. These tools are often used at home and in therapy sessions outside of school and would bridge the gap between these experiences and school.
Article by Laura Ketcham
Picture By EvelynGiggles