If you have or know a child with autism spectrum disorder — or autism, as it’s more commonly known — finding the right playthings can be a challenge. But research shows there’s more at your fingertips than you may realize. It turns out mindfulness-based toys and activities may help them better focus and regulate their emotions, giving them something to do that’s fun, easy, and possibly good for them.
For many kids with autism, distractions or judgments (whether it’s coming from others or from themselves) can often disrupt their emotional state. It’s important for them to find activities that help them focus without getting caught up in a slew of thoughts or feelings.
Research shows that mindfulness in general may be beneficial to those with autism by reducing psychological distress and encouraging well being. One University of Colorado study found that mindfulness-based treatments were shown to improve emotional regulation (ie, the ability to control your feelings), specifically in people with autism.
Like meditation itself, mindfulness-based toys and activities are those that prompt concentration, like the Super Z Liquid Motion Bubbler, an Amazon favorite (its descending bubbles have a soothing effect on children with autism). The book 2, 4, 6, 8 This Is How We Regulate: 75 Play Therapy Activities to Increase Mindfulness in Children, also available on Amazon, is also chock full of ideas for activities that incorporate mindfulness, especially for children with autism.
Even if you don’t opt for specific toys, introducing the concept of mindfulness into your child’s life may have benefits. From reducing stress and anxiety to helping with concentration and better sleep, research shows mindfulness can be a game-changer for some, especially those with high anxiety or autism. It can help build self-awareness and self-management skills, so their feelings don’t engulf them every time they have them.
For parents of children with autism, that’s a huge win.
Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.
For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.