When buying toys for an autistic child, there are many more factors to consider than just whether a toy is fun to play with.
You need to find toys that improve motor skills, stimulate their senses, improve their social interactions and help with overall development.
Take care to avoid toys that are too noisy (can cause sensory overload) or require motor skills beyond their capabilities.
Below, we have selected and reviewed the five best toys for autistic 5 year olds.
We picked those that provide sensory stimulation through shapes and textures, help with fine motor skills and lots of fun.
Physical activity is very important for autistic kids. It not only improves their physical strength and agility, it also improves fine motor skills and body coordination.
It’s also a chance to interact with other people, be it siblings or the parent.
This indoor Gorilla gym is perfect for them. You can set it up inside where there isn’t too much noise or stimulation to overwhelm the child. It is easy enough for a 5-year old to play with.
The gym includes an indoor swing, a ladder and plastic rings.
The swing is super easy to set up. You don’t need to drill holes in the wall.
The pull-up bar easily fits in a doorway with the vise-grips securing it securely on each side of the door.
The setup is very stable. You don’t have to worry about your child falling or the door breaking. It is designed in such a way that most of the motion and force is absorbed by the doorframe and wall.
The rope swing is very silent, which is great for autistic kids as well as for everyone’s sanity. No creaking chains all day long.
The rings and ladder provide extra forms of play and exercise that are especially helpful in improving body strength and overall coordination.
What we love about it:
- Easy to set up – no drilling necessary.
- Safe and secure.
- Stimulates senses, boosts physical development and promotes social interaction.
This toy set includes 66 pieces of magnetic blocks – 22 squares, 12 triangles, 2 rectangles, 2 hexagons, 4 wheels and 26 alphabet pieces.
This set gives your child a chance to stretch their imagination and create whatever they want whether it’s a car, a bus or a house.
The alphabet pieces are perfect for language development.
The different shapes provide tactile stimulation while the bright colours are good for visual stimulation.
They also provide a gentle way to introduce collaboration with other people. You can make shapes together while still giving your child a sense of control.
As they put together a car or create a word using the alphabet pieces, they’ll keep improving their fine motor skills.
What we love about it:
- Powerful magnets that makes stacking blocks and making patterns easy.
- High quality plastic that is durable and toxic-free.
- Includes coloured manual with ideas and directions for making various shapes and patterns.
- Perfect toy for stimulating brain development and improving motor skills.
Many autistic kids have a knack for things like numbers, patterns and puzzles. It’s important to play to their strengths.
It builds their confidence and further refines their mental development.
This dinosaur jigsaw puzzle also does something else – it enhances their fine motor skills and provides a fun activity.
The puzzle has 150 pieces. When fully completed, it depicts a prehistoric dinosaur scene complete with several different types of dinosaurs, trees and a river. There are also some fish and insects in there.
It’s all very colourful and visually stimulating for autistic kids.
The puzzle is not the easiest to put together. But it’s the perfect challenge for your 5 year old.
Try working on it together the first couple of times until they learn how to put the different pieces together.
The pieces are very high quality. They feel solid and are likely to last a long time.
What we love about it:
- Great for kids who love dinosaurs.
- Enhances mental development and improves fine motor skills.
- Provides a good opportunity to introduce collaboration.
- High quality pieces.
If your child has difficulty sleeping at night, as most autistic children do, try using this colourful nightlight to help them relax.
The night light projects a dazzling canvas of stars and the moon on the ceiling.
Using the buttons on the night light, you can control how the stars and moon rotate and select a theme colour.
There is also a button for a timer that you can set between 5 and 95 minutes in 5-minute increments.
For those times where the starry scene is a bit too stimulating, just press a button to turn off the projection and turn the lamp into a normal night light.
The lamp is powered by a USB cable which is included with the package. You can also connect it to an outlet using a DC adapter or power it using 4 AAA batteries.
This gives the versatility to use the night light in any kind of situation whether it’s at home, at a friend’s place or when out camping.
You can even use it as a decoration during birthday parties.
Note that the DC adapter and batteries are not included.
What we love about it:
- Versatile options to suit all kinds of situations.
- Includes timer.
- Super quiet motor that won’t disturb their sleep.
These headphones provide a safe and quiet way for kids to listen to music or watch movies at home or on the go.
They are perfect when you are travelling with your child on a plane, during a road trip or on the train.
The headphones are perfectly sized for kids aged 3-8. You can adjust them to make sure they fit snugly without being too tight.
The padding is soft and comfortable.
Our favourite feature is the volume limiter.
It automatically keeps the headphones from being turned on too high, ensuring kids don’t damage their ear drums.
We also love the audio sharing port that allows you to connect more than one pair of headphones. This is great if you are travelling with two or more kids.
Just connect one headphone to the media device and then connect it to the other headphone using the second port and the included cable.
You can set up a daisy chain of multiple headphones this way.
What we love about it:
- Kid-friendly design – lightweight yet durable.
- Available in 7 colours including blue, red, green, purple and others.
- Volume limiter.
- Audio sharing port.
How We Selected the Top Picks
We were very careful to pick toys that meet the experts-recommended criteria for engaging autistic kids.
One of the most important factors was safety. We only picked toys that are made from high quality plastics without any toxic substances.
Most of the ones we picked have safety certifications.
We also looked for toys that provide different forms of sensory stimulation, be it visual or tactile.
Something else we considered was mental development. Several of the toys we picked including the jigsaw puzzle and magnetic blocks are good for boosting creativity, imagination and problem solving.
Motor development was also important.
Finally, we considered the fun factor. All our top picks provide lots of fun to kids.
What to Consider When You Are Buying Toys for an Autistic Kid
1. Sensory stimulation
Autistic children experience various sensory challenges that make it hard to understand and interact with those around them.
Toys are a great way to improve their sensory perception without overwhelming them.
Look for toys that provide a variety of textures, shapes and colours.
Shaped and colourful blocks are good as are jigsaw puzzles and rings. Books with raised letters or textured surfaces can also help with tactile stimulation.
But be careful not to go too far. Avoid toys and activities that might overwhelm their senses. These include very smelly, sticky or loud toys.
2. Mental development
You are likely already working with your doctor on your child’s mental development. Mentally challenging toys will complement those efforts.
Toys like jigsaw puzzles and blocks force kids to think and be creative. It teaches them to solve challenges and develop persistence.
3. Motor skills
Even toys as simple as blocks or a ladder can help a lot to improve movement. They develop your child’s fine motor skills as well as overall body coordination.
Get some toys that focus on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination (e.g. blocks and jigsaw puzzles) and others for improving body strength and agility (e.g. an indoor gym, a soccer ball etc.).
With improved motor skills, your child will have an easier time in tasks like writing and drawing.
4. Social interaction
Socialisation is a major challenge for autistic kids so you need to approach it gently without robbing them of their sense of control and security.
The best way to do this is through toys that you can enjoy together or which they can use with their sibling.
Good examples include a jigsaw puzzle, a board game or a ball.
5. Organisational skills
Don’t always think in terms of helping them improve on something. They are not completely helpless.
If anything, autistic kids have several areas where they do better than non-autistic kids. Play to these strengths as you also improve their weak areas.
For instance, many autistic kids have a knack for arranging things in perfect order and picking out patterns.
They’ll really enjoy toys like blocks, shapes and coloured balls that they can arrange by size, shape, colour or any other pattern.
6. Easy to play with
Only buy toys that are in line with your kid’s developmental stage. Forget about age-appropriate toys.
Autistic kids may lag in some areas so only focusing on age-appropriate toys won’t work. They’ll feel frustrated and anxious if they cannot figure out how to play with a certain toy.
So when you buy that puzzle or painting kit, make sure it is something they can actually do. It’s okay if they need some help in the beginning as long as they are not still struggling after a while.
7. Safe and durable
This applies whether your child is autistic or not.
Make sure the toys you buy don’t have any harmful chemicals. This is especially important for autistic kids who tend to put stuff in their mouth more.
The toys should be also last for years.