The Toy Box


Top 5 Toy Picks for Children with Autism

Exceptional toys for ‘exceptional’ children

Toy Sense recently invited Melissa Stolz, Behavioural Therapist and Early Childhood Educator (ECE) with the Children’s Centre Autistic Intervention Program, to our store to talk to us about the types of toys she uses in her program while working with autistic children.

To give a bit of a background, Melissa has more than 13 years experience working with ‘exceptional children,’ the majority of these children having Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has tried many different curriculums and has tailored these to create a system she feels receives the best results.

I have been working with Melissa for some time, ordering specific toys for her to use in therapy and making sure that we stock our store shelves with products she suggests we carry for both parents of Autistic children and all parents in general.  Even with my years of experience in selling toys, I learned new ideas from Melissa on how to use what we consider to be ordinary toys, in working with exceptional children.  Luckily, her visit wasn’t limited to only picking out toys.  Melissa also gave me a valuable lesson in how to encourage and engage Autistic children, who may otherwise be hard to reach.

Based on what I learned from her, I have created a small binder of information that I make available to any parent, grandparent/teacher to read anytime, here at Toy Sense. We also have a recommended shopping guide. We will be sharing recommendations from this, here in ‘The Toy Box’, over the next several weeks.

To begin, here is a list of the top 5 toys Melissa recommends, in no particular order, for anyone buying for Autistic children:

1. Any/all Schleich Animals

2. My Smart Hands Sign Language Cards

3. Schylling Nesting Monkeys

4. Lauri Number Peg Board

5. Melissa and Doug kitchen/food products (although she likes anything Melissa and Doug)

‘Honourable Mentions’ go to Tangle Jr. and The Writing Claw.

The reasoning behind Melissa’s picks, and how she incorporates these toys into her curriculum, will be explained in more detail in the my next several blogs. Be sure to come back to ‘The Toy Box’ next week.


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 knowledgeable sales staff that provide 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 food showroom boasts over 8500 in-stock items.  We pride ourselves on the quality and uniqueness of our toy selection.