Sensory toys for special needs help a child diagnosed with sensory challenges:
- Improve mood
- Reduce anxiety
- Encourage the development of fine motor skills
- Support cognitive thinking
With that said, let’s explore 12 helpful sensory toys for special needs.
Most importantly, how these toys can help soothe or stimulate one’s senses through interactive play.
Be sure to stick around from start to finish to access helpful links throughout this post including your bonus resource at the end. 🙂
Chew toys provide sensory stimulation and develop a child’s chewing skills.
The “Chewy Superpack” is made from non-toxic silicone compounds.
It’s a handheld object or feature jewelry design to be worn on the neck or wrist.
Most parents often use chewing toys for their infants, especially during the teething stage.
These chew toys for autism come in different textures, rigidity, and patterns.
Final Verdict: This makes a safe chew toy for those who are aggressive biters or for teething kiddos.
Think of a relaxing “deep pressure therapy” session because that’s what you experience sitting in the Cozy Canoe.
This sensory tool is made for those who experience anxiety or who are touch-sensitive.
While sitting down, the soft vinyl material surrounds you while applying deep even pressure around your body.
The deep pressure helps you stay upright.
Wondering how to use the Cozy Canoe?
Here are several fun ways to use it:
- Have your child sit in it next to you while they read, play, or watch their favorite flick
- Cozy up with a weighted blanket to enhance the sensory experience
- Sit lengthwise for added deep pressure
- Sit sideways to lounge
- Sit sideways to rock back and forth or to challenge balance reactions
Final Verdict: This makes the perfect sensory tool for a child who has anxiety, is sensitive to touch, or needs upper body support to sit upright. It’s great to use in the home, daycare, classroom, or clinic.
For kids who need to get their energy out, a crash mat provides a safe way to do this.
These mats are fantastic versatile tools to use for movement-based activities like:
- Sitting or resting
For added safety, place the mat under things like a swing or slide to protect you from bumps and bruises.
Fat Brain Dipl Baby Toy
This toy holds a little one’s attention (even adults) with the bright colored silicone bubbles.
You can’t help but keep staring at it!
Most importantly, your sensory skills are put into action as you poke, pop, or push the colorful bubbles.
Final Verdict: A great fidget toy or tool to encourage sensory play for babies and toddlers.
Pop Fidget Sensory Toy
Have you ever popped bubble wrap?
That’s exactly what this bubble popper toy is like.
It helps kids to relieve stress, improve mood, and promote tactile stimulation.
Rest assured the material is safe and washable since it’s made of high-quality flexible non-BPA silicone.
Final Verdict: For kids who need an effective sensory tool to relieve stress, anxiety, and improve mood.
For kids who are like to fidget or grasp things, these pop tubes are an excellent sensory tool.
There are numerous ways to play with these plastic tubes by stretching, connecting, or popping.
This is a wonderful activity to get fingers moving to improve fine motor strength or to focus.
Final Verdict: For kids who struggle with sensory processing disorders or who are anxious, the pop tube is a perfect toy to get. Use it as a physical therapy tool during sessions, at home, in the classroom, or in clinics.
Pin artboards are considered to be highly essential among kids with autism.
They feature a steel pin that allows you to make designs with your hands as well as look at imprints within the pins.
The soothing texture of the pins makes it ideal for improving one’s sense of touch.
Final Verdict: Pin art is an excellent tactile activity to either calm or stimulates the imagination.
Body sox is an interactive toy that works by letting your child put on a colorful, breathable, and see-through lycra sock.
The pressure produced by this sock helps relieve anxiety and initiates relaxation among kids with autism.
It’s very lightweight and easy to take with you on the go.
Final Verdict: Helps a child to develop body awareness, muscle strength, and motor planning skills.
Fidget spinners are ideal for a kid with autism, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
As the spinner rotates fast with a smooth rotation, children tend to find it entertaining.
The spinner can help release stress and excess energy while strengthening numerous skillsets like:
- Visual tracking
- Fine motor
- Hand-eye coordination
Final Verdict: Fidget spinners improve focus by having your hand occupied.
Wooden Number Puzzle Sorting Montessori Toys
An engaging STEM activity to help with early math skills.
Learn shapes, numbers, and colors.
Get hands-on by stacking blocks or dropping the counter rings over the pegs.
Final Verdict: This makes a great sensory toy for toddlers to encourage focus while developing early math skills. Use it in the classroom (grades Pre-K to Kindergarten), at home, or in clinics.
Wily Fox Sensory Toy
Developed by a speech therapist and disability specialist, this educational activity enhances a child’s speech.
Consider this toy a ‘speech therapy’ tool for a child to learn through play.
How it Works
Enjoy this simple puzzle game where you “sort” the animals by color.
The game includes an assortment of things like 36 cardboard animal flashcards, stickers, velcro, and 4 colorful game boards of different habitats (farm, forest, ocean, and jungle).
Final Verdict: A fun learning game for kids who experience a speech delay or who love animals.
Water Beads Sea Animals Tactile Sensory Experience Kit
To inspire sensory play in kids, this toy takes it to a whole new level!
Add a little water to the beads in the ocean play mat and watch the magic unfold.
The water beads become elastic and slippery which creates a soothing sensory experience.
Navigate your fingers through the water beads to move and play with different ocean creatures.
Final Verdict: From toddlers to teens, this is the best toy to inspire sensory exploration.
Common Questions and Answers
How does a sensory toy calm an autistic child?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, sensory toys are considered a diagnostic protocol for kids who have been diagnosed with this condition.
Sensory toys are designed to stimulate one or all of a child’s five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, sound).
These interactive toys often include elements like sounds, bright contrasting colors, and various unique textures.
What are the benefits of sensory toys?
Sensory toys are made to stimulate the brain to improve sensory processing systems which can benefit your child in several ways:
- Support communication skills
- Improve social skills
- Encourage problem-solving skills
- Increase motor skills
- Help build nerve connections in the brain to improve sensory processing
Why are sensory toys good for kids?
When “sensory processing” occurs the nervous system is receiving messages from the senses and turning them into responses.
An engaging sensory toy or activity helps a child process the sensory information that goes into their brain and how to appropriately respond to that experience.
Why use a sensory toy?
You may have already come across different types of toys that are available in the market that are ideal for improving one or two senses in your child.
While playing, children will begin to grasp their senses way better and manage them with ease.
Each child’s condition is unique which is why choosing the right sensory toy to best suit your kiddo is important.
Using sensory toys can allow your child to explore their senses in a fun and interactive way.
The toy is an investment in the sensory benefits to encourage skillsets to…
- Mentally process senses
It is important to keep in mind that these toys do not replace formal and evidence-based treatment.
This means that the sensory toys are designed to help your precious ones learn about their senses while decreasing their fear and discomfort.
It allows them to play in a more natural way.
I want to wrap up by extending my gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
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→ BONUS RESOURCE: If you are undergoing financial constraints to care for a child with special needs, click here for a list of potential funding resources to help you with the purchase of sensory products. ←
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