Recent research in the US has confirmed what many parents have observed for years, that motion, cause and effect, repetitive and movement type toys and games are often preferred by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
When we think of sensory feedback in a ‘neurotypical’ world, the senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are what spring to mind. When it comes to children with autism spectrum disorder however, we need to consider the lesser known senses, the vestibular sense that helps us keep our balance and know where we are in space, and proprioception which has to do with the way our joints respond to movement and pressure. This explains why adults and children with ASD as well as those without, enjoy such things as deep tissue massage and can be calmed by weighted blankets and the application of pressure.
Games and activities that offer a broad range of sensory feedback were preferred over all other types of play in the hands-on, museum based study, imaginative play being the least attractive to children with ASD.
Children with ASD often find repetition and sensory feedback soothing, and if they themselves cannot be moving, they enjoy watching moving objects. Encouraging these kinds of activities in play, and by introducing toys that play to these strengths can encourage development and interaction as well as being a source of comfort.
Active play toys such as the See Saw and the Ball Chair are great for kids with energy to burn, who respond well to physical stimulation. These toys provide different levels of feedback via sound, repetition and movement.
More passive children who prefer less active stimulation, or need some downtime, might enjoy the LED Mini Fan, which not only gives visual feedback via the lights and movement but also the feeling of air and cooling. The Soothing Liquid Timer is a visual and calming toy that also provides a feeling of time and movement and time for self regulating emotions or actions for a child needing boundaries.
The Expandable Ball is a tactile toy that feeds the need for repetition and movement. It is a portable toy which does not require batteries or lots of space, and is a good option for a child’s bag.
One size never fits all in sensory play but at The Toy Bug we pride ourselves on researching and sourcing new products to help children with their development through play, visual stimulation, motion and movement.