Do not limit your buying toys for your child on the Autism Spectrum to just catalogs specifically for the special needs population. You can find a slew of items by using autism in a search on eBay. Over the past three years I have purchased and sold items on eBay under the member id " autismfamily".
When my children were in preschool special education they loved playing with the colorful Parachute. Just last week at the IEP meeting the Adaptice PE Teacher mentioned this as an activity. These will cost in the $20.00 range.
For years we had the Jump-O-Lene set up in our living room with Soft Flex Balls. They can be purchased for $10 or more at Amazon or a local toy store. The Jump-O-Lene is available at KB Toys in the $40 range. This will require a pump for the chambers to keep it inflated. My older child enjoyed assisting in this endeavor. Kids can help toss the balls in. As my children got older we placed stuffed animals and large balls inside. This was soothing to them and the first place they would head to when returning home.
I purchased a Sand and Water Table that I converted into a bean table. You can place various types of beans and rice for a delightful tactile experience. I found this out firsthand while sitting in a therapy session with my son. I liked moving my hands around the beans and rice, but chose not to use rice in my house. My older son has plastic spoons, cups and play animals inside for imaginary adventures. My younger son just likes to dip his hands in and watch the beans fall down. This will cost about $50 and be a pain to put together, which is the reason I have half of the table filled with beans.
A Speech Therapist introduced us to the Hammer Away toy. My older son enjoyed the See 'n Say toys, Mr. Potato Head, Bingo, Trouble, Checkers, Octopus Dominoes and regular wooden Dominoes and Lego toys. The Leap Frog toys did not make an impression on either of my children. I would suggest toys that play Music and light up for children that are non-verbal. My kids like Rescue Heroes, Pegboards, rainsticks, Wormy Balls and Blocks.
Playdoh, fingerpainting and clowns were not of interest to my children. They love jumping in the play bouncing structures. You will notice that at most events sponsored by autism organizations these will be set up for the children. Memory Games, playhut tents, Fishing Rods, Plastic Animals, Don't Spill the Beans and the Hungry, Hungry Hippos were fun items around our house for a short period of time.
The number one toy that almost every child on the Autism Spectrum likes and must have is Thomas the Tank engine. We spent many an afternoon at every train store in the city of Los Angeles searching for the right character so my child could hold it in his hand for that week or month. It is an extra treat when you purchase a movie and get a free train - this helped in making each child happy.
I will be sharing more stories, links and ideas on what toys are worth purchasing for your child on the Autism Spectrum. It is a trial and error - so make sure if a toy is not a hit that you hide it for awhile, just in case interest comes at a later date. If this is not the case - you have eBay as a resource to sell to another family.
Different Roads to Learning
Integrations by Abilitations
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.