The Value of Sensory Toys for Special Needs Education

By Sherman Barber

April 10, 2013

Every child can benefit from having toys to play with. Toys help a child develop
motor skills, creativity , social skills and other things they will need for growth
and development. But for a child with autism or other special needs, toys play
an even more important role. Sensory toys special needs children help them to
gain a measure of control over their environment. Sensory toys for autism
development are important because they help the child to learn problem-solving
skills, something that many children with autism struggle to do. What may look
like simple play with Sensory toys for special needs children may actually be the
process of education in action.

Having the right kind of sensory toys for autism education is very important to the
development of of the children in the classroom. Millions of children are affected
by some kind of special need or disability that affects their ability to learn in a
conventional way. Because of that, more and more schools are incorporated toys
for special needs students into their classrooms. These toys are also becoming
increasingly more available to parents as well, so that learning and development
may continue at home.

Sensory toys for special needs students help them to work on things like
hand-to-eye co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills and social interaction.
Sensory toys designed for autism education are not specifically geared toward
a particular age group. The goal is to focus on the developmental level of the
toy, not the age. Because of the particular developmental needs of each child
with special needs toys that are meant for a child of a certain age may not be
appropriate for a child of the same age with a disorder such as autism. Older
children with autism, for example, can derive great benefit from toys that are
designed for a younger child, such as blocks or a ball.

Sensory toys for autism education are particularly important. Many children with
autism or other special needs have difficulty with various textures, for example.
Toys like sand and water tables, textured balls and other tactile objects can
help a child overcome their difficulties with texture and touch. They can
help a child with autism learn to interact with the world around them. 

(Check out Hedstrom's Sensory products here)

The challenge a teacher of special needs children may find is the difficulty that
exists in striking a balance between providing ample opportunity to explore
sensory toys and running the risk of over-stimulating the child. Sensory toys for
autism education work in unexpected ways, too. Some studies have indicated a
connection between playing with sensory toys and a better degree of information
retention by the child. Teaching a lesson while a child's hand is playing with water,
for example, has been shown to result in more information being retained by the
child than if the same lesson were taught without the sensory element.

Sensory toys, then, have a special place in special needs education. There is no
doubt that teaching a child with special needs presents many challenges but
sensory toys for special needs children can go a long way toward assisting both
the teacher and the student in the learning process. And when used at home,
these sensory toys can help to extend the learning potential even more.

View all Hedstrom's Sensory Products!

Article by Sherman Barber at

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Comments (5) - Post a Comment
good article
houten speelgoed at 9:12am EDT - June 23, 2013
My grandson was diagnosed as being mild-moderate in the autism spectrum. I don't know what to do to help him, he does have an aversion to certain textures. This disorder is all new to me, but I want to give him every opportunity that is available
Lynda at 8:51pm EDT - July 3, 2013
What a great article. There are so my sensory toys out these days to help with all different types of sensory needs from sensory processing disorder to autism like you have said. Thank you for this article.
Finlee and Me at 12:29am EST - February 5, 2014
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