Sensory and receptive toys can be helpful for children and adults on the autism spectrum as they may assist in easing feelings of anxiety by occupying one or more of the five senses.
Various toys which are specifically designed to assist those who have autism are available. The items below may not all be specially designed with an autism spectrum condition in mind but are considered as helpful by charities which support those have autism. These items and ideas are what our article will focus on.
As a site that offers accessible holidays in Devon, our facilities include a sensory room which is available as a safe space to those who have autism and may need an area away from overwhelming surroundings.
The Purpose of Receptive Toys
Receptive toys can be used to interact with one or more of the five senses:
They are produced with the aim to assist with physical or cognitive development and to attain the attention of a child who may feel overwhelmed by surroundings which feel chaotic. If you would like to learn more about autism, please take a look at our blog on Understanding Autism.
There are many projectors on the market which are designed to create a safe-feeling space through ambient lighting. The OPTI Aura Sensory Projector is a leading brand built by the same company which produced lighting for shows, including The Who and Pink Floyd. Testimonials of their positive impact can be found on their website, including from the parents of children who live with special needs, such as autism. The projector has been described as being especially useful when aiding with sleep routines due to the relaxing environment they create. Colour torches can also offer similar features, at a smaller price tag.
A bubble machine can be considered a multi-sensory toy which can intrigue a range of ages. By creating bubbles, it can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated into games. For example, tracking games by following the bubble, chasing the bubbles and catching the bubbles which exercise tracking and motor skills. If your child prefers to try things themselves, a bottle of bubbles is also a great and cheaper alternative.
Sensory Blackout Tent
A blackout tent can be personalised to each individual and can be made extra comfortable with beanbags to create a secure and safe space.
For those who like to be visually stimulated, colourful books can be satisfying. Dr Seuss is commonly named as a fantastic author with this in mind. Other authors have specially-dedicated books to help children and adults who have autism. Lynette Dare is an author who specialises in creating humoristic and personalised books for autistic children. She began writing to help her son, who was on the autism spectrum and has created a selection of beautifully colourful books which help make everyday situations relatable for children who can feel overwhelmed due to the effects of autism.
Fidget Toy Cube
A small toy which is ideal for going anywhere, the fidget cube is designed with a total of nine movements and textures to occupy those who are prone to distraction.
Light-Up Fidget Spinner
An item you may be familiar with, the fidget spinner has become a popular toy for many children and adults everywhere. It has been promoted as relieving feelings of anxiety by occupying the hands. With additional lights, it may engage the brain through its visual appeal.
Research has indicated that music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain and consequently has been used in therapy for children who have autism. As music doesn’t necessarily require the use of a spoken language, children and adults can feel encouraged to exercise communications through the sound of music.
One for the garden, a swing is a fun and soothing activity which some children and adults may enjoy. This activity is something we have adapted here at Calvert Trust Exmoor; we have an indoor giant swing which we have introduced to our site as a sensory experience for all to enjoy. Our adaptive harnesses and supports can be customised for each individual and fulfil any requirements they may need. It is used to help with feelings of self-belief and confidence.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing holidays that can be enjoyed by all. If you have any suggestions or recommendations about toys in relation to autism, we would love to hear about them! Contact us on our social media channels.