Five Great Gifts for Autistic Preschoolers

As the mommy to a four-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I’ve discovered many wonderful  mainstream toys that are both fun and therapeutic. Toys that improve language development, sensory and motor regulation, build core strength, muscle tone and coordination. Toys that spark my son’s inner drive, encouraging more engagement and child-lead interaction.

Here are five of MommyQ’s favorite toys, from $18 – $300. Most of them are eco-friendly, which I personally love. I’m not speaking as a medical expert here, just as a mom. If you’re the parent, relative or friend of an autistic child, maybe this list will make your holiday shopping a little bit easier. I hope so!

Wheely Bug – If you haven’t seen these cute little ride-on critters, you need to check them out. I bought the cow for my boys last month and my ASD son loves it! (Also available in bee and ladybug!) It really helps him with coordination and balance, while building his core. We he first started riding it, he was wobbly. Now he can lift his feet and maneuver it around every corner. It has helped him adjust to motion that had bothered him in the past. In my opinion, this is one of the best gifts for an ASD child. Make sure you buy the big Wheely Bug to get the most use out of it. Eco-friendly! $70

Breakfast Menu Set – These types of wooden toys are great for a variety of reasons. Many autistic children have issues with food due to textures. By incorporating pretend food into playtime, it seems to make real mealtime easier. You can ‘prepare’ the pretend food together and takes turns ‘tasting’ it. That way your child is more open to the idea of trying different foods. Manipulating smaller toys, like shaking the salt & pepper shakers, improves fine motor skills too. Plan Toys is a wonderful green company and makes a huge selection of incredible wooden toys. Eco-friendly! $18

LIKEaBIKE – This is a unique eco-friendly bike sans pedals! That’s because this bike was designed to boost your child’s confidence and comfort in riding a bike, while building their balance, core strength, etc. They start out slow, usually walking with it and then as they improve, they can go much faster. Obviously this is not great for hills or steep surfaces, but on flat streets, in the driveway or at the park, it’s a wonderful (and fun) toy. Our OT therapist has mentioned it multiple times. Eco-friendly! $300

Haba Ball Track Master Builder Set – Many autistic children love toys that spin and roll. My son does a variety of activities at OT therapy involving marbles, which is why I love this toy from Haba. Your child can build the track and then watch the marbles spin through it. This is the big set and Haba also makes a smaller set for $43. This toy is perfect for fine motor skill improvement and development. It also gets the imagination and interaction rolling. Eco-friendly! $200

Hopscotch Puzzle Mat – Another great toy for improving balance, motor skills, interaction and organizing thought processes is this cute Hopscotch mat by Alex. First you put it together like a puzzle, then you play the game. This gives you child a great opportunity to practice hopping on one foot and then jumping with two feet. It’s also a good game for ASD kids to play with their friends or siblings. $23

Read Ode to a Wheely Bug to see the cow in motion!

The Funkiest Baby Mobiles Around…

Yes, this blog post is about baby mobiles. Come on, you know it’s a very important component of every nursery. With fun colors, spunky characters and sweet songs, you’d probably sleep better if one was hanging over your bed too.

Cirque du Soleil Acrobalu Mobile – Guess what the inspiration for this little number is? Daring and delightful, this whimsical mobile plays “Alegria,” to help dreams take flight. BabyEarth $50

Twittering Mobile – This little wooden number by Haba is a sweet tweet. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  Five colorful Birds of Paradise flutter through the sky, making this unique mobile an understated favorite. BabyEarth $41

Symphony-In-Motion Mobile – It’s a whirlwind of craziness that babies just love! The visuals, movements and spacial relations keeps baby entertained and happy. Target $40

Cocalo Couture Bali Mobile – Maybe it’s a huge hit because of the cool color scheme or the artistic design. Either way, this is a popular baby mobile this season. The mobile arm is covered in funky & fun animal print. Cat naps commence! BabyEarth $60

Butterflies Mobile – Gorgeous butterfly mobile is really a magical site. Pottery Barn $80