27 Best Toys and Gifts for Children with Autism (2020)

About: Hi, I’m Chris Drew (Ph.D) and I run things around here. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My pick for the best value-for-money gift for children with autism is the USA Toyz Play Tent (pictured right). Jump to my review of the USA Toyz Play Tent below.

I like it because it provides a safe space for a child to retreat to when they are experiencing sensory overload.

In my search, I also found 17 other toys that are good quality. All of them are reviewed below.

My top 7 from the fill list of best toys for children with autism are:

  • USA Toyz Play Tent.
  • “Arggh” Giant Squishy Stress Ball.
  • FIOLOM Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set.
  • Calming Autism Sensory LED Light Projector.
  • TEMI Electronic Classic Railway Train Set.
  • ToyerBee Sensory Fidget Toys (Set of 19).
  • Harlka Hug Inflatable Peapod.

Looking for an Educational Option?

If child development is your major concern, jump to my review of the FIOLOM Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set (for 3 – 5 year olds).

Best gifts for children with autism

1. USA Toyz Play Tent

Quick Review: Your child will love this indoor play tent. They can escape inside the tent when life on the outside gets to be a bit too much.


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on Amazon.

Benefits for children with autism:

This tent can can also inspire your child’s imagination. The tent comes in 3 designs: rocket ship, unicorns, and under-the-sea. I love the one shaped like a rocket ship. Your child can feel like they’re blasting off into outer space to explore new worlds. Get this toy to inspire your little one’s adventurous spirit in a safe and comfortable play based learning environment.

Great For Sensory Overload: Many children with autism find the outside world a little too tough. Others seem to see the world in different ways to them which causes stress and anxiety. They often also experience sensory overload in busy or noisy spaces.

A play tent is an excellent idea to keep in your child’s play room or your living room. It’ll give them somewhere to retreat when life gets too much.

2. Weighted Blanket by Hazli – 5, 7 or 10 Lbs

Quick Review: A weighted blanket can work wonders as a calming and soothing weight for a child. It gives the sensation of being hugged and can help a child drift off to sleep or calm down.


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Benefits for children with autism:

Weighted objects have well known positive effects on children. Kids with autism who often crave calming sensations often react positively to weighted blankets. This is why I have them in my classroom. I’d strongly encourage a parent of a child with anxiety, sensory processing disorder or trouble sleeping to try giving their child a special weighted blanket. Give it a go!

Comfort: The biggest benefit of this product is comfort for the child. Parents may like it, too, as a great way to save time and relax their loved one!

Size Options: A weighted blanket should fit the child (not the bed). It should also weigh about 10% of the child’s body weight. This will ensure maximum comfort for the child. The blanket I have selected here comes in three size options (5, 7 and 10 Lbs). Get the one that’s closest to 10% of your child’s body weight.

Tips for Use: When your child is having an episode of sensory processing disorder, wrap the blanket around their shoulders and let them hug it tight to themselves. If your child is seated, let your child rest it on their lap.

3. FIOLOM Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set

Quick Review: Great for ages 3 – 5. This nuts and bolts set helps children to develop fine motor skills. Children can also practice color recognition, sorting skills, shape matching and hand-eye coordination.


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Benefits for children with autism:

The early years are some of the most important years for a child’s cognitive development. Help your child explore and understand their world with these connect-and-screw toys. Screwing is a really beneficial fine motor skill which children can begin developing in ages 3 – 5.

The toy is a full 40-piece set of nuts and bolts, with 4 shapes and 5 different colors. Have your child practice screwing nuts and bolts together. They can mix and match colors to learn about colors and shapes.

Environmentally Friendly: The toy is made from safe, polyethylene free, biodegradable plastic. They have been lab tested to ensure they are safe for sensitive skin and built to be too large to swallow.

Lifetime Warranty: Purchase with confidence knowing the product is warrantied for quality control.

4. Calming Autism Sensory LED Light Projector

Quick Review: Some children with autism have a lot of trouble getting to sleep in the dark. This LED light projector creates a calm ocean feel while also providing some night light for your child.


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Benefits for children with autism:

Getting a child to relax at night is hard enough. For children with autism, it can be ten times harder. Fear of the dark plus an active mind can wind up driving kids and their parents crazy.

This toy has a solution.

A Calming Night Light: The underwater ripples encase the ceiling and walls. If your child is calmed by water, this can work like an absolute charm! Simultaneously, the soft light acts as a nightlight for a child with fear of the dark.

MP3 Speaker: This LED Projector also has an in-build speaker. Plug your phone or MP3 player in to play soothing night music, water sounds, or a children’s meditation app.

Powered by 4x AA batteries.

5. ToyerBee Sensory Fidget Toys (Set of 19)

Quick Review: As all parents know, fidget toys are an amazing lifesaver for a child with anxiety or an active mind. This set of 19 will mean your child always has a fresh fidget toy to explore.


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on Amazon.

Benefits for children with autism:

A fidget toy is one of the best ways to help children with autism relax and concentrate. The toys help children to focus on a conversation and filter out other sensations in their environment. This ability to enhance focus has meant they’re being used more and more in educational settings.

For your child, the toy can give them a place to direct excess energy. It also gives them something to do with their hands. These benefits mean that fidget toys help children with autism and ADHD achieve what other children find easier: eliminating extraneous sensory stimuli in their environment.

19 Sensory Toys in One Gift: I’ve added this toy to the list because it’s got so many great toys. If you give your child one toy per week, it’ll be 19 whole weeks of unique sensory toys!

6. TEMI Electronic Classic Railway Train Set

Quick Review: A great gift for your little one who is obsessed with trains.


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Benefits for children with autism:

I’ve come across many, many children with autism who absolutely love trains! It’s something about that repetitive clickity-clack of the train as it goes down the track and its majesty on films like Polar Express that captures children’s hearts.

If your child is content playing with their train set for hours on end, this might just be the gift for them!

The train set comes with one motorized train in a classic Christmas steam engine style (see image above), two passenger coaches, and a full train track. Set up the train kit, flick the switch, and have fun while the train does its loops!

The train has realistic headlights (LED light), smoke, and train sounds. The smoke is operated by dropping cooking oil down the smoke stack – pretty cool!

I’d choose this as a Christmas gift as they’re great to set up around Christmas time.

Best for ages 3 – 12.

7. Harkla Hug Inflatable Peapod

Quick Review: This inflatable Peapod is a 60-Inch cocoon that your child can climb into. It’s a relaxing, comforting play space that provides a child with sensory needs a big hug.


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on Amazon.

Benefits for children with autism:

I have found in my time teaching that many children with autism benefit from the comfort of gentle pressure on their laps or bodies. I often provide them with duvets to cover their bodies to feel that sense of comfort.

This alternative is a but like a ‘beanbag boat’. Children can dive into the Harkla Hug and use it as their own personal private space for hiding from the world.

Have a read of the reviews on Amazon. It appears many parents have attested to their benefits for children with autism. In fact, the Harkla Hug was specifically designed for children with sensory processing needs.

It Rocks Gently: The underside of this pump is designed so you or your child can gently rock the Harkla Hug. It may be a great way to get your kid to relax and have a sleep!

Includes Pump: You’ll need to pump the Harkla Hug up. Fortunately, it comes with an electric air pump. When you need to free up space in the house, deflate it for easy storage.

Age Range: 6 – 12.

8. Liam’s Life with Autism Sensory Overload (Book)

Quick Review: This book provides a sensitive and touching reflection on living with autism. It helps children with autism to understand their condition, but can also be read by the family to help build empathy for their beautiful child.


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Benefits for children with autism:

Books are always great gifts for children. This one is a particularly poignant book for a child with autism. It’s one that your child can empathize with, but so can any parents or loved one of a child suffering from sensory overload.

The main character in the book (Liam) has hypersensitivity. He has trouble with noises, large crowds, bright lights and changes in routine. He also has trouble expressing his feelings. The narrative explores how life can be a huge struggle for Liam.

But, it also shows how Liam is a normal child in so many ways. He loves dancing, his family, and his favorite toys.

The book overall shows how Liam is misunderstood, but at the end of the day is a much loved and lovable person in his family’s life.

Consider sharing the book with your child’s daycare providers or teacher once you’ve finished with it as it gives such a compassionate insight into life with autism.

9. Jasonwell Aqua Magic Doodle Mat

Quick Review: This doodle mat is both fun and educational. Your child can practice writing and drawing with both big and small strokes. Great for all children and a wide range of ages!


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Benefits for children:

This toy could be great for children with and without autism. It’s a large mat that can be placed on the floor or hung on a wall. It comes with a set of 5 different colored pens, 6 stamps and 6 drawing templates. The pens are activated by filling with water. Children fill the pens then draw on the mat. The drawing magically disappears within 3 to 10 minutes – easy!

It operates without paint so it’s clean and toxin free.

Writing Practice: The huge benefit of this toy is that it’s great for a range of skills. Your child can make large and small strokes to practice both fine and gross motor skills.

Flexible with Ages :If your child is at an age where they are enjoying drawing or practicing writing, this is a great gift.

10. “Arggh” Giant Squishy Stress Ball

Quick Review: This is a fun and mesmerizing way to release stress. It’s something to focus on, plus a good sensory experience.


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on Amazon.

Benefits for children with autism:

This “Arggh” giant squishy stress ball from Power Your Fun can be mesmerizing. Your child will enjoy trying to make this squishy ball change colors. It changes colors as you stretch, push and squeeze it in and out of shape.

Great for Stress: When your child starts feeling anxious or stressed, consider handing them this stress relieving toy. As the toy’s name suggest, it’s for those moments when you want to yell “Arggh!!”.

Durable: The toy has a durable outer layer that can be squished and squeezed without breaking. Inside is a non-toxic gel.

Non-toxic: The brand (Power Your Fun) also claims that this toy is safe and non-toxic so you can rest assured your child is safe playing with this toy. It’s soft, gentle, and far too big to swallow (5 inches in diameter)!

11. Play-Doh Cement Mixer

Quick Review: This toy kit is a great tactile play experience for your child to build and create. Your little explorer can bend, crush and sculpt the Play-Doh clay to create their own construction zone!


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Benefits for children with autism:

This kit can help your child learn through unstructured play with a substance that is tactile and easy to manipulate. The kit comes with a ‘cement mixer’. You can put the Play-Doh in the cement mixer and squeeze it out the back in strips.

Children can create boulders, shapes and objects out of the manipulable clay. When the cement mixer runs over it, a road shape is carved into the clay – very cool!

There is also an included ‘stamp’ so your child can make colors in their Play-Doh.

Let their imagination roam free in a child-centered play-based learning setting with this great gift.

Includes Clay: The included clay is in 3 ounce containers. You get 5 containers with 5 different colors of clay. 

12. Photo Conversation Cards for Autism

Quick Review: I keep a set of these in my classroom. Each conversation card is a stimulus for discussion about how to behave in social situations. They’re a good direct way of helping a child understand social behaviors that are often lost on children with autism.


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Benefits for children with autism:

The set of 90 photo cards will be a good toy for a more structured adult-led learning situation. Turn each card over and discuss the social situation with your child. Each ‘scenario’ is an image and story. Once you have discussed the situation, work together to consider possible ways to react to the scenario.

It is something you could consider doing with your child for 20 minutes a day to help them slowly learn social and communication skills necessary for survival at school.

Practical: While this isn’t the most ‘fun’ gift, it is still a very important one for helping your child come to terms with life outside of home.

For Ages 5-11.

13. Pop Tubes

Quick Review: Pop tubes make a popping noise when they are stretched out or squeezed together like a xylophone. They are widely used as a fidget toy for children to focus and relax but can also be connected together for construction.


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Benefits for children with autism:

Pop tubes can be used as fidget toys or as connect-a-toys. As a fidget toy, they’re beneficial for children to relax and concentrate (but beware, they can make popping noises!). As connect-a-toys, they’re a flexible option for helping children to create and experiment with construction.

Construction: Each tube can connect onto the next one to construct 3D objects and shapes. When stretched out, these toys are very flexible and bendy. Children can tie them in knots, create buildings and skyscrapers, or make funny shapes.

Fidget Toys: Give your child one to pull out and then squeeze together again. Toddlers love the popping sensation as they play with them.

For all ages.

14. Weighted Lap Dog

Quick Review: A weighted stuffed animal is an amazing toy for a child who struggles to sit still. They can have an amazing calming effect. Your child will fall in love with this gorgeous stuffed animal!


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on Amazon.

Benefits for children with autism:

I swear by weighted toys as a solution to fidgeting and distraction. Sometimes all a child need is that nice soothing weight like a big hug.

The bonus of having a stuffed animal as the toy is that your child will love the cuddly and cute animal, too. If it’s the right toy, it’ll become your child’s best friend and must-have travel buddy.

Hand this toy to your child when he or she is feeling unsettled or fidgety. I find they work best when the child is seated with they toy in their lap.

For all Ages.

15. Water Beads Ocean Set by Monilon

Quick Review: These water beads provide a great sensory experience for your child. Running your hands through the beads feels incredibly relaxing!


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Benefits for children with autism:

This gift would provide a great sensory play experience for your child. Inflate the mat and place in on a table. Then, fill it with water and add the beads. The beads will inflate into a slimy, slippery pile on the mat.

The beads are colored in blue and teal colors to give an ocean feel to the play experience.

Once the beads are inflated, you can throw in the 21 cool plastic ocean creatures that come in the set so your child has some toys. You’ll find them making up imaginary play experiences in no time!

Re-usable: The beads need to be dried in the sun and returned to your jar for re-use.

Runners-Up

Quick Review: These runners-up are some more toys to consider for a child who has autism.

16. My Moods, My Choices Flipbook

The My Moods, My Choices Flipbook is a great flipbook for children to learn to express their moods. use it when your child is struggling to express themselves. The flipbook has 20 different moods and emotions that your child can flip through. Get them to point out the image that best matches their mood. It’s a great tool to help your child express their emotions positively!

Jump to my full review of the My Moods, My Choices Flipbook here.

17. Visual ASD Now, Next, Later Board

Many children with autism have trouble when routines change or unexpected things occur throughout the day. Help them manage these struggles with this visual Now, Next, Later board. I use it every day in my classrooms. Without fail, the children who respond best to this strategy are the children in my class with autism. They love that I’ve given them structure in their day. Try it out at home!

Jump to my full review of the Visual ASD Now, Next, Later Board here.

18. Care for Me Learning Carrier

The Care for Me Learning Carrier would be great for a caring, gentle child. It’s a toy dog carrier that a child can carry around. When they open it up, your child can play with their stuffed toy dog. There are also 100 different noises that the carrier can make via the buttons around the outside of this great, versatile toy.

Jump to my full review of the Care for Me Learning Carrier here.

19. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones can be a godsend for your child when they are suffering from sensory overload. Consider getting a set that have a cute design for kids but are also great at blocking out external noises. Hand them to your child when they can’t handle the outside noises at the shops or in crowds.

Jump to my full review of the 7 best noise cancelling headphones for autism.

20. ArtCreativity Classic Pin Art Game

This is a very popular toy for children with autism. It is a pin chart where a child can use their hands or fingers to press the pins into any shape they want. The result is an artwork of a child’s finger or hand prints. Even adults can get involved with this and create fun and intricate designs. I find children get bored of it quite quickly, though.

If you’re interested, you can search for this pin art game on Amazon.

21. Bristle Blocks by Battat

Bristle blocks are an age-old toy that has stood the test of time. Like Lego and Duplo, bristle blocks are blocks that can be inteconnected to create anything you like. This open-play concept encourages creativity and design skills from an early age. Children with autism may enjoy the ‘bristly’ feel of these blocks.

If you’re interested, you can search for Bristle Blocks on Amazon.

22. Town Play Mat

Town play mats can be hours of entertainment for any child. The open-ended nature of these play mats encourages children to be creative in their free play environment. Consider getting your child playing on the play mat with other children to encourage cooperative play. Social skill development is something that needs to be actively taught to children with autism from a young age. So, playing with other children on play mats is a great idea.

If you’re interested, you can search for Town Play Mats on Amazon.

23. Rubiks Cubes

A Rubiks cube may be frustrating for you or me, but for a child it can be a fascinating puzzle. I’ve had many children with autism who have had a great knack for solving Rubiks puzzles. This might be a good toy for a child in the 10 – 15 years age range with autism who is really hitting their stride with mathematical and logical thinking.

If you’re interested, you can search for Rubiks Cubes on Amazon.

24. Audiobooks for Kids

Kids audiobooks are usually very entertainingly narrated. They can be used at night when preparing for bed. Another time for using them is after your child has had a ‘bit of a moment’ and needs to calm down. Even if reading may not be something your child is ready for, audiobooks for kids could be great. Consider jumping over to Audible and finding some great child-focused audiobooks to listen to for a week to see how your child reacts.

If you’re interested, head over to Audible.com.

25. Meditation Apps for Kids

Meditation for kids has really taken off lately. It’s a fantastic way for children to practice mindfulness. I like to use them to help calm down kids in my class who are going through a rough time. They can also be really useful for helping a child with autism focus, relax, and turn off all the noises of the outside world.

Use your favorite podcasting app to find a few meditation for kids podcasts that will get you started for free.

26. ‘I See Things Differently’ Book by Pat Thomas

This lovely and heartwarming book helps parents teach their children exactly what we mean by ‘autism’. It has very simple, clear explanations and quality illustrations to go along with it. I’ve read some reviews online, however, of parents who are concerned this book doesn’t depict children with autism positively enough. Other reviews have criticized that it doesn’t seek enough similarities between children with autism and neurotypical children. Nonetheless, I read it and found it a touching children’s book for a child of around age 8 or above.

You can find ‘I see Things Differently’ on Amazon.

27. ‘I Don’t Speak Much’ T-Shirt

Children with autism are awesome. Sometimes, people around them give them judging and unfair looks because of their atypical behaviors. If your child with autism is proud of who they are, consider this cool t-shirt, which reads: “I don’t speak much because I’m brilliant and I’m busy thinking.” I love this saying because it doesn’t directly mention autism, but just highlights how cool your kid really is. The colorful lettering also shows off your child’s colorful personality.

Click the T-Shirt to Check it out on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Children with autism are similar to neurotypical children in many ways. They still love their favorite toys and need stimulating toys to help them play and learn. I’ve introduced you to some typical toys for children’s development in this list as well as some specifically for children with autism.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best toys for children with autism – do let me know in the comments if you think there are any more I should add!