The Toy Box


Five Learning Toys for Autistic Children

Animals to categorize; sign language to communicate

In last week’s blog ‘Exceptional toys for exceptional children’ we listed five top toy picks for Autistic children based on recommendations from Melissa Stolz, Behavioural Therapist and Early Childhood Educator (ECE).

Now I want to share with you why she liked each specific product and remind you that I have detailed exercises on how to use each of these toys as a learning tool, based on what I learned from Melissa. I make this information available to parents, grandparents and teachers. I would be happy to share this information with you, wherever you are. Just email me your request.  

Schleich Animals, of any kind, were one of Melinda’s recommendations. Here’s why!

Melissa uses Schleich animals to teach ‘exceptional’ children about ‘categorizing’ and natural environments. She loves the Schleich animals because they are excellent replicas, not fake looking ‘cartoonish’ animals, and teach children what animals look like ‘in real life’. They are also anatomically correct, helping children to understand that animals, like people, can be sorted into boy and girl. She also appreciates their durability. Animals she has purchased years ago, after being played with by many little hands (and even some teeth), are in excellent condition. She has learned that although there are less expensive animal toys available it costs more in the long-run to keep replacing these.

With respect to developing communication skills, Melissa uses sign language in her program for Autistic children, regardless of the child’s level. She loves this form of communication for both verbal and non-verbal children with Autism and also teaches it to family members as a means to communicate with these ‘exceptional’ children. She uses My Smart Hands flash cards as her teaching tool for this.

Imagine yourself in a situation in which every person speaks a different language than you. Trying to make yourself understood would become very frustrating. This is the case with a non-verbal child. Sign language is a great tool to help ease some of the frustration. 

Children that are able to communicate with speech may still have times where they cannot make themselves understood. This second form of communication gives them another way to talk to the people around them.

Siblings need a way to interact with their non-verbal brother or sister. Sign language can foster the bond between them and Melissa tells us that children think it’s really cool to be able to speak their own ‘secret’ language; very “James Bond-ish.” 

My Smart Hands card sets are bright with colourful pictures and straight-forward instructions. The cards are extremely durable, printed on thick board paper, laminated and come with a large ring to keep them all together when not in use. 

In our next post we will take a closer look at the additional products recommended by Melissa, including  Schylling Nesting Monkeys, Lauri Number Puzzle Boards and Pegs and Melissa & Doug kitchen/food products.

Toy Sense is a giant specialty toy retailer in Thunder Bay ON and a member of Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS).  We offer a fun and friendly shopping environment with a knowledgeable sales staff that provides the expert advice needed to the find the ‘perfect’ toy. Our products are hand-picked by our experienced staff which gives you widest selection of the best products available at a variety of price points.  Our 4000+ square foot showroom boasts over 8500 in-stock items.  We pride ourselves on the quality and uniqueness of our toy selection.