Here are some toys that are good for kids with autism based on Pookie’s reaction to them. He will be four at the end of the month.
A box of mirrored tiles, stick them to your wall with super-adhesive tape. We often catch Pookie dancing in front of his mirror, making funny faces or checking out how he looks when he does certain things.
An Easy Bake Oven (used with supervision, or course). It’s just like cooking, but faster and simpler. And tastier. [Update: In light of the recall over the summer, you shouldn't buy an Easy Bake Oven until they have a new design. If you have the old design, you should contact them for the information about exchanging the oven for a credit to buy other toys]
The entire series of whichever book the child likes best. Pookie is always so excited to see that there is another book starring his favorite character. He likes Lyle the Crocodile, Rolie Polie Olie, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Doreen Cronin’s books, and Jez Alborough’s well-meaning but clumsy Duck.
KerPlunk, the marble game. Good for learning about cause and effect. Also good for motor skills.
Small, hand-sized, rubber balls that light up. Just the right size for carrying around.
Marble Works by Discovery Toys
Simply illustrated cartoons, cartoons with simple plots or cartoons that are very musical. We like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Muppet Babies, Curious George, Veggie Tales, Disney’s Goofy and Winnie the Pooh. Consider old VHS copies instead of DVDs. Learning to wait for the rewind is an important life skill, it won’t kill you to learn that too. Also, VHS are easier for kids to put in and out themselves (if you are working on that independent skill as well). And, of course, they are dirt cheap at thrift stores. Sign language videos are also great.
Paints and large paper.
Play-Doh. It’s tactile and a very forgiving toy. There is no wrong way to play with Play-Doh.
Anything that can be stacked or sorted.
A sandbox. If you do not have a yard, buy a shallow Rubbermaid tote and several large bags of Rice (cheap at ALDI). You can make an indoor rice box that is easier to clean up than sand.
Music to listen to in the car. Pookie tends to zone out a bit in the car. Playing music that he likes is one way to prevent that. Plus we sometimes seat-dance. But Beagooddad is not allowed to look at us, because once he almost rear-ended a pickup truck because we were rocking out to “Who Let the Dogs Out.”
Playground swings. We hung ours inside for the winter. Just be careful not to swing too much, or your child can become too dependent on the sensation. But its OK in small doses. Ask your child’s teacher.
Books with rhyme, repetition or expected outcomes. We like Dr. Seuss’s ABC, Duck in the Truck, Duck for President, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and I SPY.