Last week we discussed how Physical Therapy and Autism work hand in hand. Today we are going to give you some tips for selecting toys for children with developmental disabilities, specifically Autism.

When selecting toys for children with Autism first, you want to identify the child’s play capability and consider his or her individual needs. Second, you want to consider the skills that a toy can help expand or develop.

The following tips from are not all inclusive, but do provide guidance on choosing toys wisely:

For children who have autism with communication delays:

“Select toys that encourage repetition of movements, have purpose, and promote activities that use both sides of the body together. Toys should not be battery operated or include lights or electronic sounds. Examples include:

Bold wooden toys

  • Puzzles (promote fine motor skills, communication and problem solving)
  • Blocks (all sizes and shapes for problem solving, manipulation, and squatting to floor to pick up)
  • Nesting blocks, cardboard bricks, or textured blocks

Picture cards and story books

  • Activity cards/mats (help with cooperative plan and communication through movement)
  • Ready, Set, Move™ Activity Set
  • Social Stories™ (books that require you to act out movements while learning social expectations and communication techniques)

Toys that encourage repetition of activities

  • Shape sorters, peg boards, Light-Brite™ (assist with fine motor skills and sitting balance)
  • Higher-level cards with pieces to form a shape (help develop fine motor skills, problem solving, and communication)
  • Lego® or other types of toys that require building and manipulation of objects to create things (encourage development of gross and fine motor skills and communication techniques)
  • Plastic containers filled with everyday, household items, such as utensils to imitate cooking
  • Aqua Sand (encourages pouring, dumping, scooping, squatting, sequencing, and choices of color)
  • Trains”

For children who have autism, but do not have communication delays:

“Select toys that encourage use of both sides of the body and repetition of a purposeful activity. Examples include:

Toys and games with pragmatics included (help with understanding non-verbal cues and social situations)

  • Social Stories™ (books that require one to act out movements while learning social expectations and communication techniques)
  • “Guess Who” books
  • Board games that ask simple questions, such as Hedbanz

Action and movement games

  • Hullabaloo
  • Twister (encourages cooperation with others and intense motor planning and coordination skills)
  • Games that encourage running and chasing activities with a rule book to help explain the game
  • Bowling games on the lawn
  • Carpet square hopscotch games”