Photo: Educational Insights
This colourful playfoam provides tactile and sensory stimulation, as well as developing fine motor skills. The soft foam allows your child to explore their creativity by sculpting whatever they’d like, or simply just squishing it and watching it ooze between their fingers. It doesn’t stick, so it can be used for indoor, outdoor or on-the-go play. Bonus: It never dries out! Four colours included: orange, purple, green and blue.
Ages 3+. $7, amazon.ca
Want to get your child moving? She can use this simple teeter-totter-for-one to rock, sit, spin or stand. And as she rocks, she can listen to the soothing pops from the suction cups as they stick to and release from the floor—think never-ending bubble wrap. This toy builds strength and balance and helps to develop gross motor skills. Available in pink, green and blue.
Ages 3-6. $45 each, indigo.ca
Although this retro toy may have been just a cool accessory in the ‘70s, it can serve as a calming tool for the 21st-century child and is especially loved by kids with autism or sensory sensitivity. The flowing, up-and-down motion of the colourful lava will help your child to focus on what they are seeing, while promoting a sense of calm. It can be plugged into any outlet, making it accessible from bedroom to sensory room to classroom. It doubles up as a night light too! Please note that if this product runs for an extended period of time, it may become very hot, so we suggest keeping it out of your child’s reach.
$27 each, bedbathandbeyond.ca
Get your kids talking with this colourful picture book that uses the metaphor of a train to teach children on the autism spectrum basic conversation skills. “Engines are like greetings; they get the train going. Freight wagons are like different speakers’ turns; it’s good to have at least a few when in a conversation.” This visual approach to speaking is helpful for children with ASDs to help understand the different components of conversation. Also included: engaging colouring pages and worksheets that you can photocopy and work on together.
Ages 5+. $30, indigo.ca
This 5-pound turtle is flat and will lie perfectly across your child’s lap when they’re restless or fidgety, and you’re trying to help them focus or calm down. The plush shell is also great for sensory or tactile play and stroking the soft material may also have a calming effect, in combo with the pressure from the weight. This weighted turtle, or any other weighted device, is perfect for children with ADHD and SPD as well, and may even become your child’s favourite, new stuffie. The weight can also help build muscle tone, as kids take turns lifting and carrying this cuddly sea creature.
Ages 4+. $60 USD, nationalautismresources.com
This interactive chalkboard, learning desk and easel will make educational activities way more fun. Thanks to its nine colourful touch pages, your child will learn about the ocean, farm animals, and the town map , among other features. There are up to four learning modes on each page, to encourage your kid to interact with the voice responses that ask questions. For the visual learner, the LED screen will show her how to write numbers and letters, step-by-step. For auditory learners, the music mode is perfect for teaching reading and writing in familiar melodies. The 3-in-1 activity desk transforms into an easel or chalkboard and includes a pretend clock that introduces the concept of time.
Ages 3-36. $70, vtechkids.ca
This little bag of textures is perfect for your tactile learner. Whether your child prefers silky, smooth, fluffy or scratchy, each pillow and patch is perfect for hands-on sensory stimulation. Your little one can explore the textures they love or hate and can improve their descriptive vocabulary and matching skills. Included are 20 pillows and patches (10 different pairs), an activity guide and a drawstring bag for easy cleanup.
Ages 3-5. $34, amazon.ca
This visual learning tool is perfect for teaching your child math and counting. Press the light-up buttons, and the adorable turtle will say the number out loud and count along. If your kid chooses the addition activity, the turtle will guide him to the answer by lighting up the correct number of buttons. The two rollers at the bottom introduce shapes, instruments and colours, and will engage your child with sing-along melodies. The light-up buttons will test your child’s memory and hand-eye coordination. Bonus: You can switch the turtle to Spanish mode to learn in a new language!
Ages 2-5. $20, vtechkids.ca
If your little one likes to chew, then this adorable pendant is perfect! The friendly owl is BPA free and is just as soothing as it is fashionable. The pieces are made of child-safe silicone, featuring an adjustable nylon cord and chewable, silicone beads. It’s an awesome sensory accessory that helps to reduce stress and soothe anxious children. The Munchables line has something suitable for all ages, including chewable dog tags, bracelets, and pencil toppers. For easy cleaning, just use mild soap and water!
Ages 2+. Owl Collection, $20, munchables.ca
This is a perfect gift for any child with autism. The kit encourages social learning by helping your child to recognize emotions, develop social skills, encourage play, and more. The Friends and Neighbors Game is a cooperative matching game, that will teach your child to recognize emotions, acquire empathy, engage in teamwork, and develop valuable social skills. The Play Power Coloring Book has cute illustrations that help to teach the importance of playing fair, good sportsmanship, and flexible thinking. The Understanding Emotions flip cards feature multiple pictures of children displaying different kinds of emotions, with prompts on the back to help you talk to your child about each. Your child will also Learn to Respond Appropriately in day-to-day scenarios with the other card set. The photos encourage social skills and help kids to understand how to respond appropriately in conversations. Lastly, the Happy Sad Hand Puppet is fun to play with and helps children with basic communication skills.
Ages 3+. $45 USD, nationalautismresources.com
This is a wonderful sensory toy for bathtime fun. Let your little one fill up the spout with water and watch the water fall through the individual tumblers or all three stacked at once. The colourful spout and tumblers swivel, so your child can play with the endless stream of water on its own, or line the tumblers up underneath the flowing water. They can also spin the little propeller in and underneath the water in the tub. The spout attaches easily to most bathtubs by suction cup. This toy is great for teaching cause and effect, as well as encouraging tactile play and exploration with water.
Ages 9-36 months. $28, indigo.ca
If you’re looking for an original therapeutic tool to help calm and focus, look no further than this fidget toy. The 20 rubber-coated pieces can be manipulated by pivoting, twisting, pulling apart and reconnecting them, and the bumpy exterior is also great for tactile stimulation. The toy is light and made to fit right into your hands, making it the perfect on-the-go fine motor skills-activating activity.
Ages 5+. $14, amazon.ca
This toy, made of Beachwood, enables your child to expand, contract, twist, and manipulate the tiny, colourful balls any which way they’d like. The specially designed 20-ball connectors are great for making symmetrical or asymmetrical art—all while your child experiences the texture of the toy as they twist it into their very own masterpiece.
Ages 3+. $35, indigo.ca
Your child can learn to draw over 100 shapes and objects as well as write letters and numbers by using the magic pen and tracing the light as a guide. This interactive easel makes learning to write and draw more fun than with a plain old pencil and paper. It is multiple tools in one: a light-up dry-erase board, a chalkboard, and a drawing table. The easel also plays 10 classic songs for your child to enjoy while free-handing their own designs.
Ages 3-6. $80, vtechkids.ca
Is your child feeling anxious? Don’t bug out—Bob can help him calm down! This simple squeeze toy has been around forever, and for good reason. Give Bob as many squeezes as you can and watch his ears, nose and eyes pop out. It’ll help your child to relieve stress when they’re feeling overwhelmed, and you might even get some laughs out of him, too. Simple, but effective!
Ages 3+. $21, amazon.ca
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