Best Toys for Nonverbal Autism
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Best Toys for Nonverbal Autism [15 Picks Reviewed 2024]

Best toys for nonverbal autism are meant to develop a child’s creativity and a host of cognitive, social, motor, and emotional skills. And that’s no different from toys in general!

But unlike most other toys for kids, these also have an important mission of stimulating language development with children who find it especially hard to express themselves through verbal interaction.

That is why finding the best toys for nonverbal kids may prove trickier than it looks. After sifting through dozens of options on the market, we found that the best pick for most people is probably the Mood Flipbook. After all, what’s more important in life than figuring out your own feelings and finding a way to express them?

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS 
The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids; 20 Different Moods/Emotions; Autism; ADHD; Help Kids Identify Feelings and Make Positive Choices; Laminated Pages (Monster Flipbook)
Best Overall
The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids
  • An easy flip chart designed for communicating more effectively in daily life that kids will love using.
Best Gamified Toy
Goally
  • Helps the child get a sense of responsibility and independence, fosters their language development, improves their confidence and the go-get attitude.
Super Z Outlet Liquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play, Fidget Toy, Children Activity, Desk Top, Assorted Colors (1 Piece)
Budget Option
Super Z Outlet Liquid Motion Bubbler
  • A visually pleasing to made from colorful descending bubbles that will keep kids engaged for hours.

Related post: Best Toys for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Best Toys for Nonverbal Autistic Child

1. Best Overall – The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids

Best Overall

The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids; 20 Different Moods/Emotions; Autism; ADHD; Help Kids Identify Feelings and Make Positive Choices; Laminated Pages (Monster Flipbook)

The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids

An easy flip chart designed for communicating more effectively in daily life that kids will love using.

This Flipbook is a great educational tool that helps kids with special needs express their moods and emotions. It contains 20 different moods depicted through colorful monster characters that the kids find appealing. The keyword here is nonverbal communication — in effect, this tool legitimizes it and lets your child know it’s totally fine and safe to communicate by showing and not telling.

The pages of the book are laminated and it comes with a built-in stand. The thick binder rings and a study stand to make it highly durable. It can be easily displayed in a home or a school.  

At the bottom of the tabs, there are blank spaces for the kids to write down any positive action they want to take. However, you will need to buy a dry-erase marker for that.

The fact is, many parents experience an emotional communication gap with an autistic kid. Learning to use the Flipbook in the right way can be a great way to bridge this gap. Truth is, many parents have found it an effective tool to support the little ones who have a hard time expressing their emotions.

2. Best Gamified Toy – Goally

Best Gamified Toy

Goally

This iPad-like device turns your kid’s daily routines and behaviors into an exciting adventure paved with rewards! It helps the child get a sense of responsibility and independence, fosters their language development, improves their confidence and the go-get attitude.

Goally is far more than a simple toy. It’s a gamified system app that addresses the hallmark of autism – routines. Well, this tablet-like device and app actually turn routines into positive reinforcement that reduces anxiety and seamlessly helps the child learn to function in different situations.

As a parent, you can use the app to set tasks, chores, and schedules for your kid. Whenever they completes a routine successfully, they will get points that lead to a reward.

And how do kids react to this kind of experience? It’s not surprising that the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s advisable to start with the routines your child already knows and loves, and work your way up together. What better way to do a chore than see it as part of a game?

The great thing is that Goally also works for neurotypical kids who find it hard to adjust to everyday responsibilities, as well as kids with ADHD who have trouble focusing on the task at hand. It is well-known from ABA therapy that positive reinforcement works well for modifying behavior, so it stands to reason that Goally should lead to positive behavioral changes.

Truth be told, Goally is pretty expensive, but it will work miracles with elementary school kids all the way up to teenagers.

An objection that many parents may have is that the app would be perfectly functional on its own, without a proprietary device. Indeed, Goally the app does work on other popular platforms, such as iOS. However, a big advantage of a proprietary device is that your child cannot get distracted by other apps. Many parents also find it more convenient to have a dedicated device rather than an app on a device that may fulfill multiple roles or be used by other family members.

Don’t forget to use coupon code MARK5 at checkout to get $5 off Goally!

3. Best Budget Option – Super Z Outlet Liquid Motion Bubbler

Best Budget Option

Super Z Outlet Liquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play, Fidget Toy, Children Activity, Desk Top, Assorted Colors (1 Piece)

Super Z Outlet Liquid Motion Bubbler

A visually pleasing toy made from colorful descending bubbles that will keep kids engaged for hours.

Fiddling and stretching with a toy can get tiring after a few minutes. But what about colorful bubbles that will have a calming and mesmerizing effect on your kids?

Each container or bubbler contains bubbles of two bright colors and the action is similar to the movement of sand in an hourglass. The smooth and rhythmic movement of the bubbles in the Liquid Motion Bubbler is a great autism sensory toy. 

The never-ending motion of the bubbles acts as a visual stimulator and helps the kids to stay focused. Once the journey of the bubbles is over, just flip over the container to start it again. And it’s great fun to watch the movement of the bubbles.

The quality of the bubblers is good and the outer layer is thick. However frequent drops or knocks can damage them. Since this is a safe toy, it’s a great option if you can’t monitor your child. 

On the downside, you can’t choose the color type you prefer. We wish the manufacturers allowed the buyers to pick the choice of colors.

4. Best for Sensory Play – BUNMO Super Sensory Stretchy Strings

Best for Sensory Play

BUNMO Stretchy Strings | Sensory Toys for Toddlers 1-3 | Stimulating & Addictive Sensory Toys for Kids with Autism | Fidget Toy for Anxiety & Stress Relief | Hours of Fun for Kids | Super Sensory 6pk

BUNMO Super Sensory Stretchy Strings

A set of five colorful, stretchable, fidgety strings, each of which offers a different tactile experience for the kids.

What better way to learn about your surroundings than fiddling, stretching, or twitching things that can’t break? With this Bunmo Stretchy String Fidget, the kid will get an assortment of brightly colored tubes that will help improve their motor and sensory skills. The noodles are made of latex-free TPR materials and are BPA-free to ensure safety for little chewers.

It’s a slightly different take on the original Monkey Noodles but even better as it’s textured and allows for yet another layer of tactile and sensory experience.

The best part is, these strings come in six different textures and each provides a unique sensory experience. The stretchability is excellent — up to six feet in length. While they are soft and squishy, the strings are not prone to breakage even after constant stretching.

In case they get dirty (which they will), cleaning them is simple. However, they tend to pick up dust so you should do well to store them in a closed container.

Also, kids might get tempted to whip them around or shoot them around the room. If you can’t monitor your child at all times, this fidget toy may not be the best choice for you.

5. Best for Spelling – Melissa & Doug See & Spell

Best for Spelling

Melissa & Doug See & Spell Wooden Educational Toy With 8 Double-Sided Spelling Boards and 64 Letters Preschool Learning Activities, See & Spell Learning Toys For Kids Ages 4+

Melissa & Doug See & Spell

A wonderful, old-school toy that engages and exercises language, fine motors skills, focus, and interactivity. The kid will learn the alphabet and colors, expand their vocabulary, and practice social skills.

A fish is not just a cold-blooded animal that lives in water. It’s also a 4-letter word, with each of the letters forming their own shape. Match the letters with their shapes, pair them with a picture, and you’ll get the meaning in its entirety! That’s what Melissa & Doug See & Spell is all about.

Language works in countless ways, and this highly-rated developmental toy shows it. If your child has speech delay, it’s not a reason not to learn spelling, practice focus and hand eye coordination!

Another wonderful feature of this set is that it’s very suitable for socializing and teamwork. The child can team up with their friend or sibling and learn about the beauty and value of camaraderie!

When you unbox it, just go through all the boards and letters. Some customers have reported issues with mismatched pictures or incomplete alphabet.

6. Best Activity Center – Learning Advantage Horse Activity Center

Best Activity Center

SPARK & WOW Horse Activity Wall Panel - Ages 18m+ - Montessori Sensory Wall Toy - 2 Activities - Busy Board - Toddler Room Décor

Horse Activity Center

A beautiful wooden board that mounts on the wall and offers pleasing and educational activities.

A maze with 8 colorful beads and a launching lever. Plus a set of four cogs that you can turn. It’s as simple as it gets, and it’s about everything this Horse Activity Center can do.

But if there’s one word that describes its effect on kids, it’s the word “pleasing.”

Research has shown that nonverbal autistic kids are sensory seekers more often than not. Considering that they are hyposensitive to stimuli, they crave more sensory input than an average child.

That’s why we consider this set one of the best sensory toys – not just educational. Doctors and therapists can also use these in their waiting rooms to keep the kids busy and calm them down.

At a single glance, you can see that this toy can help develop many skills: from fine motor skills to hand-eye coordination to language. Not to mention just how pleasing turning the cogs and moving the beads will be to so many kids on the spectrum!

The only downside we could notice is that the board is on the pricier side. However, the quality of materials, simplicity of design and versatility of use are pretty much worth it.

7. Best for Routine Transition – Now Next Later Board

Best for Routine Transition

First Then Visual Schedule for Kids –Premium Durable Plastic –32 Communication Cards –Autism Learning Materials –Special Education Classroom (English)

Now Next Later Board

This board is specially designed for autistic kids by experts and is super easy to use.

Using visual aids is one of the best ways to help autistic kids overcome communication challenges. The board is a simple but effective tool that helps the kids to transition from one task to another. This, in turn, helps them to deal with daily tasks in a better way and helps parents to manage challenging behavior.

This board has 32 pre-printed plastic symbols and a small but durable plastic board. The kids need to place two symbols side-by-side to match the activities to be performed. This practice will help any child with working memory problems to understand the now and next activities. Thankfully, the material is washable and easy to clean.

The practice has proven to be helpful for kids struggling with transition. Additionally, it helps them to participate in specific activities by acting as a visual schedule planner. You can even use the board to prepare a weekly schedule for the child.

Considering how affordable it is, the Now Next Later Board Chart is a great tool to support the development of autistic children and to improve their self-confidence.

8. Best for Speech Therapy – Uladis Speech Therapy Toy

Best for Speech Therapy

Toddler Toys for 2 3 4 5 Year Old Girls and Boys, Uladis Speech Therapy Toys, Autism Sensory Toys for Autistic Children, Montessori Toys, Learning Talking Flash Cards 224 Sight Words

Uladis Speech Therapy Toy

A simple but effective toy that is super engaging and works as a great tool to work on the language skills of a kid.

Allowing your kid to create connections between visuals and sound is one of the basic steps in improving their vocabulary.  Most importantly, this toy was designed with inputs from child education experts and has 112 double-sided flashcards that cover 12 diverse themes.

Each flash card can be inserted into a card reader to pronounce the word. The sound is clear and you can adjust the volume as well. Also, there are multiple play modes to keep a child engaged for long hours. The machine is easy to use and is powered by a  built-in rechargeable battery. It has an auto-shut-off mechanism to prevent battery drain.

The cards have smooth edges to prevent any injury to the soft hands. The reader is made from high-quality materials to ensure durability. Since the device is lightweight and comes with a portable bag, it is easy to carry around.

Now, there are no alphabet cards that allow kids to start from scratch. So you’ll want to make sure you pick this toy once your kid has learned the fundamentals of vocabulary.

When you look at it, it’s pretty similar to some of the board games that all of us love so much!

9. Best for Hyperactive Kids – Ativafit Folding Trampoline

Best for Hyperactive Kids

Ativafit 36'' Trampoline for Kids Foldable Mini Toddler Trampoline with Comfortable Foam Handle Play Indoor Outdoor Home Use for Boys Girls for Fun

Ativafit Folding Trampoline

A classic trampoline provides not only loads of fun for activity-seeking kids, but also strengthens their joints and muscles, improving coordination and balance.

You won’t see a humble trampoline advertised as a “special needs toy”, sensory toy or anything like that. Nevertheless, the Ativafit Folding Trampoline is a perfect toy to work out your hyperactive kid.

Another reason why you should consider getting one is that it’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. But a trampoline doesn’t just mean entertainment and fun. Jumping and bouncing is also an important activity for physical health. It improves balance and coordination in space, refining the kid’s proprioception!

The trampoline is designed to be quiet and produces no abnormal sound. A thick cloth cover that makes it low-impact prevents excess stress on the knees. Since it has high-quality springs, the maximum weight limit is 330lbs, two kids can jump together on this one.

The safety handle will provide protection so that the kid doesn’t fall over. The trampoline is pretty small anyway, so it shouldn’t be a huge concern. Still, we recommend parental supervision. You never know what a kid might be up to!

10. Best for Rockers – Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper

Best for Rockers

Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper

Left and right, back and forth – this toy is bound to make your little rocker happy. It also improves coordination and produces popping sounds to supplement their auditory diet.

Is your child a rocker? If yes, Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper could be the best gift idea you’ve ever had.

Rocking is just one of the many types of stimming behaviors that are common with autism. This board will make it even more fun and rewarding since it’s versatile enough for sitting or standing. Plus, the popping sound of the suction cups will add some more fun (even if it won’t delight the parents)!

In fact, this balance board rocker can be used in a variety of ways depending on the skills of the child. The kid can rock back and forth or stand on it as if they are surfing. As a fun toy, it’s effective for a wide age group.

Apart from producing loads of sensory input, this toy enhances coordination and balance. It doesn’t have anything to do with verbal skills, but it will make your kid happy. And sometimes, that’s all they need!

11. Best for Sensory Development – Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Best for Sensory Development

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set, 31 Tools & 6 Cans, Back to School Classroom Supplies, Kids Arts & Crafts, Preschool Toys, Ages 3+ (Amazon Exclusive)

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set

Creating animal shapes and patterns with Play-Doh is a great way to have fun and provide the right level of sensory stimuli to the kids.

In order to develop the fine motor skills of an autistic child, you need to stimulate their five senses. The Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set has more than 30 tools that allow the kids to create fun shapes. Play-Doh has been around for a long time and still remains one of the best choices as a sensory toy.

The action of squishing and playing with the Play-Doh makes it a great tool for engaging the senses. At the same time, it encourages creative thinking among the kids.

The set includes roller and cutter attachments that allow the kids to get creative and create their own make-believe world. The entire arrangement is safe and simple and the material is not too hard for the little hands to push down. The vibrant colors make the toy even more attractive.

On the downside, cleaning the compound from the crevices of the tools can be an issue. Residual compounds can harden up and block the corners. Also, make sure to put the lid on tight on the containers, or else the compound may dry out in time.

12. Best for Calming Down – Outree Sensory Pod Swing

Best for Calming Down

OUTREE Kids Pod Swing Seat Cotton Child Hammock Chair for Indoor and Outdoor use (Blue)

Outree Sensory Swing

A snuggly, cuddly seat to soothe your child and provide a safe space for some me-time. Suitable for indoors and outdoors.

The Outree Sensory Swing is so much more than a seat or a swing, or even a sensory toy. You can hang it in a room, in the backyard, or pretty much whenever the child prefers.

Parents often find it difficult to travel or explore new areas with an autistic child. This swing will solve at least half of the problem. It’s a portable safe nook that can travel with you. Are you planning a family outing? Just bring the swing along, and your kid will have a familiar place for stress relief where they can be alone and recharge even in the middle of a crowd.

Smooth back-and-forth motions of the swing can bring about a calming effect on individuals; especially on kids with processing disorders. It also helps in developing the vestibular receptors in the inner ear that help to improve balance and coordination.

A downside is that installation is a bit of a hassle if you aren’t handy. Also, if the kid is bigger, it would be wise to purchase a more durable set of screws and bolts for mounting.

13. Best Toys for Autistic Toddlers – Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzle

Best for Toddlers

Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Sound Puzzle - Wooden Peg Puzzle With Sound Effects (8 pcs)

Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzle

A simple and super cute peg board puzzle that will enhance the child’s fine motor skills, problem solving, and listening without overwhelming them.

Place a piece of puzzle on the board correctly and it will moo, bark, meow, neigh, oink, cluck, or bleat. It might not be language proper, but it’s communication alright!

This Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzle wasn’t made specifically with nonverbal kids in mind. But it’s one of the top educational toys for them, precisely because it revolves around all the beautiful and different ways in which living beings communicate.

Another way to encourage the development of language is nudging the kid to repeat the names of the animals every time they make a sound. If he doesn’t speak at all, maybe you will get him to imitate the sounds if you do it first.

This toy also improves focus by making the child observe the shapes so that they can match a piece correctly.

There’s a small con that you need to be aware of, though. The sounds can sometimes go off on their own. If you don’t want a cow to wake you up at night, it’s best to remove the batteries when out of use!

14. Best for Babies – Fat Brain Toys Dimpl

Best for Babies

Fat Brain Toys Original Dimpl Brand Baby Toy, 1 piece

Fat Brain Toys Dimpl

Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, schoolkids or even parents – this little fidget is a great stress reliever for everyone. Plus, it teaches cause and effect and develops fine motor skills.

The concept of Fat Brain Toys Dimpl couldn’t be simpler. It’s just a plastic little board with five colorful silicone bubbles that you can push and pop to the other side – and vice versa. By doing that, the baby learns that pushing in results in a dimple popping out. That’s the gist of cause and effect!

And how strong a push is strong enough? The kid will have fun figuring it out and will fine-tune their motor skills in the process.

But this toy is by no means limited to babies. As you will see for yourself if you give it a try, the process is quite enjoyable and addictive for all ages. Toddlers, preschoolers, and schoolers can tag along this noiseless toy for fidgeting wherever they go.

And now to the flip side! It’s an awesome little tool, but unfortunately, quite expensive for what it offers.

15. Best for Fidgeters – Wacky Tracks Snap Click Fidget Toys

Best for Fidgeters

8Pcs Fidgets Wacky Tracks Fidget Toys for Kids Classroom Students School Prizes Gifts Sensory Autism Toys Snap Fidget Snake Click Toys for Adults Stress Relief ADD ADHD Autistic Keeps Fingers Busy

Wacky Tracks Snap Click Fidget Toys

For kids and adults having issues with focusing, this toy can be an engaging option for hours at a stretch.

What makes the Wacky Tracks fidget toys effective (and different from the Bunmo Stretchy Strings above!) is the satisfying sound that they make as the pieces snap/click together. Not only do they work for autism, but also for conditions like ADD, ADHD, and OCD. 

While these toys are for all age groups, the bright colors will appeal to the kids. The pack contains eight chains, each of which has 24 links. They can be bent and twisted into creative shapes which makes a fun and creative activity.

Note, the soft clicking sound is soothing, and not distracting in any way. Since the pieces can be disconnected, they are less prone to breakage. The pieces are sturdy enough to withstand rough handling. Being small and flat, they are also easy for parents to carry around or keep inside a desk.

Now, the individual pieces are small enough for toddlers to put inside their mouths. So, it is best not to keep the kid unattended while playing with these.

If you’re after a good fidget toy, it may be helpful to check out our guides to best fidget toys to help stop biting their nails or picking their skin!

What to Consider When Buying Toys for Nonverbal Autism

Children playing with toys for nonverbal autism

Age Matters!

Judging by this study, 4 years of age seems to be a significant milestone with nonverbal children. At or after this age, nearly half of all surveyed kids acquired fluent speech. An even greater percentage managed to learn phrases.

So how does that translate to choosing toys for a nonverbal child? If they are a toddler, you still can’t have a precise notion of how impaired their language skills are. That’s why it’s probably wise to try with a wide range of all-purpose toys for neurotypical children. If a kid’s nonverbal intelligence is fine, chances are they will begin to verbalize after the age of 4.

Nonverbal Communication Is Communication Too

The fact that your child with autism finds it hard to spell out their wants, needs, and wishes doesn’t mean they don’t have other ways to make them known. As a parent, you should try to pick up their signals and use the types of communication that best resonate with your kid.

It means there’s no need to insist on verbal toys that speak or sing. In fact, a multitude of artificial sounds could even be disturbing for some children. Instead, you can focus on games and toys that stimulate other means of communication – written language, gestures, mimics, or imitation.

Tap Into the Child’s Personal Interests

No two people are alike, and with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kids and adults, it’s even more so. Even if some of them won’t spell out how different they are from the next ASD person, you should never assume that there is a single type of toy that works with all ASD kids.

That’s why it’s wise to provide toys and games that will strike a personal chord with the kid. A toy that works excellently with one kid may be an absolute failure with another. For example, if they react well to music, that would be the way to go.

Many kids on the spectrum will fall head over heels in love with wheels and various mechanisms. Anecdotally, many families report that an autism camp is a great way to discover just what their autistic child is capable of. Developmental experts couldn’t be more right when they claim: to each their own!

Kid playing with colorful shape toys

But even if you were to choose the most adequate toy in the world, don’t push it. Let the child approve and adopt it at their own pace. Your role is to create a gentle, affirmative, unobtrusive environment that will stimulate the child rather than forcing or intimidating them into play.

Select the Right Toys: Sturdy & Simple

Buying too many toys can be overwhelming for a kid with autism. It’s best to stick to one or two toys instead of allowing their focus to wander between many options. That makes a single large and effective toy a better option than multiple smaller ones.

Many kids have temper tantrums that affect the way they handle toys. Make sure to choose a durable toy that can survive being smashed or accidental drops. 

Likewise, it is best not to start with a complex toy that can be too difficult for the kid to handle. If the toy does not interest the child right way, do not discard it. Try again at a later date or try to modify a specific aspect of the toy that the child may dislike.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to calm a nonverbal autistic child?

If your child is a sensory seeker, it doesn’t mean you should throw all kinds of stimuli at them. Quite the contrary: if you overdo it, it may lead to uncontrollable behavior, also known as autistic meltdown.

Meltdowns can make a parent feel helpless or even embarrassed, especially when they happen in public. But they are your child’s way of saying that they’ve had too much of something, that they are overwhelmed or afraid.

In such cases, panicking and forcing the kid to stop doing what they’re doing is counterproductive. The best thing you can do is to remain calm and just be there for them. Don’t punish or shame them for a behavior they can’t control.

So how does that translate to toys? It’s best to avoid toys full of lights, screechy sounds, and movement. Instead, choose a simple toy that will provoke their interest and make them focus on one type of stimuli at a time. It’s also good to always have a stress-relieving toy on the go, just in case your child needs some calming down.

Do I need to buy special learning toys for a child on the spectrum?

Autism toys are usually designed by occupational therapists and other experts after years of research and practice. That fact typically vouches for their adequacy, but it doesn’t mean that they are the only appropriate toys for an autistic child.

On the contrary, you should always try and offer a wide range of toys to your kid. If they don’t react to them or clearly disapprove, you should try with sensory toys. Children on the spectrum are often hyposensitive, which means that they tend to underreact to stimuli. If that’s the case with your child, they will need more sensory input to calm their anxiety.

Parent and child with autism playing with shape and musical toys

What are the best sensory toys for autism?

Autism often goes hand in hand with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Senses are the first contact point with the outside world for every single child. In nonverbal autism, however, they may often be the only contact point.

That’s why these toys are made to meet three main goals:

  • Calm down a hypersensitive kid and reduce their anxiety level without overwhelming them. Think about fidgets, spinners, and similar toys that even neurotypical kids and adults like to fiddle with.
  • Provide the stimuli a hyposensitive child craves for in a safe and controlled way. Autistic kids often seek sensory stimuli so desperately that they will engage in unhealthy or unsafe activities such as jumping off the stairs. A sensory toy will meet the child’s need without exposing her to danger. These are toys such as hopper balls, trampolines, etc.
  • Provide a fun opportunity to learn. This is probably the most important developmental function of sensory play in general. That’s why most educational toys heavily rely on the senses!

That being said, there is no single best sensory toy for autism. It’s up to you to try multiple toys and figure out what works best for your child.

Last update on 2024-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API