Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Finding Entertaining Toys For a Child With Autism

here are many companies both on and off the internet who are promoting toys for children with autism. As an educator for over 20 years and also a parent, I have found some of the best toys are not toys. Therefore, in addition to suggested toys, I will also recommend some items most people have that children on the Autism spectrum seem to like.
Children with autism tend to have sensory processing problems. All of the following suggested "play items" encourage "heavy work" activities, which seem to be one area all of my students, but particularly my students with autism, seem to need a lot more sensory input.

•For children with a high need for heavy work activities, here is a list of things they can do.

- Run the sweeper/vacuum
- Push a lawnmower
- Pull a wagon Load up big, heavy toy trucks with blocks and push them around
- Put another student/sibling in a plastic bin and have the child push him/her around in it (They love this!)
- Put together chairs and make a tunnel - At the end of the tunnel there is something for the child to do such as match a letter or color card. This is one of my students' favorites!
- Take long walks or runs
- Exercise to music. My children love Greg and Steve's "Kids in Action" and the DVD "Move n' Groove"
- Jump on a mini trampoline
- Dribble a basketball
- Kick a soccer ball
- Get 10 used boxes from the cafeteria and fill them with something not too heavy but something that will give them some weight. Blankets work well. Have the children take turns stacking and counting the boxes.
- Encourage the children to do push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks.
- Make a mini-obstacle course in the classroom.
- Put colored "lily pads "on the floor of the classroom (or any other concept you are working on) and have the children jump from one to the other.oDo musical games and act them out. For instance, have 10 children lay on a carpet (or however many you have). Then sing "There were 10 in the Bed and the little one said Roll over." Then they all roll and one falls out. It becomes a sequencing game and teaches wait time. My children with autism really like it.
- Play "tug of war."
- Play non-competitive musical chairs. This is how we do it. I put out enough chairs for each child. I turn on the music. At first we walk and sit down. It takes a while for the children to understand which way to walk and that they go to the closest chair, not necessarily the one they started on (it's about learning to accept change). After they learn what's expected, I start asking them to do something other than walk, such as "swim, fly like a bird, walk like a monkey, jump, hop, or their favorite is crawl."

Crawling seems to be really good for children with autism for a number of reasons and they must generally need the sensory stimulation because they tend to enjoy it.

One of the greatest joys in teaching is when a child who didn't know how to play suddenly knows how to play, laugh and have fun. It's something they need for a lifetime.

This is a blog and website dedicated to sharing resources and strategies to enhance the lives of children with disabilities.

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