This year, World Autism Awareness Week, runs from March 27th to April 2nd 2015, and to celebrate, Toys R Us held an exclusive store browsing event for families affected by autism and additional needs. Held in conjunction with the National Autistic Society (NAS), the Toys R Us event allowed families to enjoy exploring our selection sensory toys for autism in a subdued environment, without any loud music or tannoy announcements, and with reduced fluorescent lighting.
Toys for autism
To help parents make the most of our in-store events, and for those who couldn’t make it along, NAS have spoken to teachers in their autism-specific schools to discover the best toys for children with autism available at Toys R Us. Of course, all kids are different, and favourite toys will vary according to each child’s individual interests. The toys and games listed below, however, will support areas which children with autism may find difficult.
This brightly coloured microphone can help autistic children to communicate more easily. Often, children who are not confident in their communication skills will feel more at ease talking with a microphone in their hand, as it adds an element of fun to their verbalisation and distracts them from any anxieties about speaking they might have.
Children with autism often enjoy toys which involve visual and spatial skills. NAS have recommended this toy as they’ve seen many children in their schools who like the sensory aspect of exploring the world through a microscope.
This science kit allows kids to build their very own erupting volcano, so they can experience scientific concepts in an extremely visual and sensory way. This type of practical toy can be a brilliant relaxation tool for children with all sorts of complex needs, including autism and developmental delays.
This detailed anatomy kit allows children to lean all the different parts of the human body. Children with autism are often interested in skeletons and find this topic easy to relate to, as they can feel the hard bones underneath their skin. NAS schools use full size skeletons to teach children body parts, and they find that although children can be quite anxious about injuries, teaching them how the body works can really help to alleviate these worries.
NAS find that many of their pupils are interested in both dinosaurs and model making – and this product perfectly combines both! With 21 pieces to be assembled, it provides a great way of learning about the T-Rex whilst following easy instructions.
This learning tool is a really useful way of teaching children how to tie their shoelaces, and it will help to develop their fine motor skills.
These answer buzzers are perfect for use both at home and at school. Often, children with autism aren’t motivated to join in with games and quizzes, but these fun buzzers take away some of the anxiety about communicating to the teacher that you know the answer.
These drawing boards can make communication for autistic children a lot easier, and they’re suitable for children at all stages of development. Those who are just learning to write can mark the boards with ease, allowing them to get immediate feedback. The fact that they can wipe away any drawings can really benefit children who are able to draw, as they can often be anxious about making mistakes. What’s more, these boards can also be used for communication with parents and teachers. Sometimes drawing and writing things down can make changes easier to accept, for example if a parent needs to explain to their child that they won’t be going swimming as the pool is closed.
This drawing board offers all the same benefits as the two above – but it’s even better as it features a great superhero!
These colourful wooden beads will help to promote your child’s fine motor skills, including hand-eye co-ordination as well as visual skills. Many children enjoy making patterns, and with this toy, they can enjoy building something whilst practising these essential skills.
Etch-a-Sketch can be tricky to master, but many children love creating shapes and patterns with them, and they’re a fantastic way to develop hand-eye co-ordination.
Flashcards are brilliant for encouraging learning in a very visual and practical way. This set contains cards for both number and letter learning, including 70 word and number flash cards, 48 number snap cards and 20 number counting puzzles.
Just as flashcards help children to learn in a visual way, these number tiles are another fun way for children to get to grips with number and letter learning. The set contains 26 foam tiles with pop-out letters, and 10 with numbers, allowing for plenty of building and educational fun.
These bright stacking cubes will help with your child’s hand-eye co-ordination, as they learn to build the blocks into a tower or sort them by colour and shape. The set contains 10 activity blocks with 9 wooden shapes, and each block features 5 sides of play with lots of different activities including shape sorting, counting games and puzzles.
Play Doh is an extremely popular toy in NAS schools, and is a great option for playtime at home, too, as long as your child doesn’t have pica, where they eat inedible objects. We have lots of different Play Doh sets to choose from, including Jake and the Neverland Pirates and the Mountain of Colour.
- Arts and crafts
We have plenty of craft kits at Toys R Us for arty children with autism, who can often benefit from having a set task to complete, rather than being faced with open-ended imaginative play. This Painting by Numbers set is a good option, as is this colourful Hama Beads Cute Pet set.
Thomas is one of the most loved characters of children in NAS schools, and we have plenty of autism-friendly products here at Toys R Us. The Thomas & Friends Remarkables Mat is a great choice for artistic children, as they can enjoy colouring, doodling, stamping and drawing on the brightly coloured mat.
A classic family favourite, Connect 4 is ideal for teaching children how to take turns, and this bright yellow SpongeBob version adds an extra fun twist to the game.
In this fun game, each player takes turns to carefully stack baggage on the mule, before he kicks the load off. It’s perfect for autistic children, as it teaches them about case and effect, as well as the value of prediction and forward planning.
Both of these classic games are ideal for developing theory of mind, getting children to think about what their opponent is thinking and what move they might be planning.