I have lived with Autism in some way shape or form for my entire life. My brother was within the bounds of low-functioning autism for most of his adolescent life but with decades of love and attention he is now higher functioning. My eldest daughter was recently diagnosed, so I’ve had a chance to see and play with a lot of these toys firsthand.
Having a child with a spectrum diagnosis can be hard work but sensory toys and parental attention can make a world of difference when it comes to helping your child develop essential motor and social skills.
If you’re looking for gifts for children with special needs, or sensory toys for kids that aren’t your own, it’s worthwhile have a discussion with the parent over what sort of toys the child likes before purchasing one, as what works for one child may aggravate another. Most children with a spectrum diagnosis absolutely love sensory toys that involve playing or manipulating lights.
Sounds on the other hand can go one of two ways, some children love it but repetitive sounds can be upsetting for the parents (if you’ve ever had to listen to one sound effect on repeat for days on end, you’ll know what I’m talking about) while other children may find the noise over-stimulating.
For those of you who are thinking about purchasing toys that require batteries, if the toy is supplied with a rechargeable battery pack, it’s worthwhile purchasing a spare battery where available to prevent meltdowns. If the toy is a heavy duty toy that drains batteries, rechargeable batteries are also a welcome addition!
We’ve also recently found that MagnaTiles are a great sensory toy for the whole family to play with. They’re expensive, but the sensory click they provide when stacking has kept our daughter happy for hours on end.
All prices listed include VAT – you may be able to claim VAT relief on items for chronically sick or disabled children. Please check with HMRC for more information and to see if you can apply.
In This Guide
Best Light & Sensory Toys
Fibre Optic Sensory Harness (200cm x 50cm)
Amazing Light Sensory Toy
- 50 thick (2.2mm) fibres
- Colour changing light engine with remote control
Suitable For : 3 Years+ | Size : 2m Length
Features : Multiple Colours, Remote Control Operated
This is by far my favourite sensory toy for kids. These long and sturdy fibre optic cables are 2.2mm thick and 2 metres long. They provide a calming light which can be changed via remote control.
Safe for most special needs children as they won’t tangle thanks to the nature of the fibre. They can be hung on walls or within tents, above beds or carried around. They are highly recommended and usually priced between £150-250.
Child supervision is necessary with younger children due to the nature of this toy.
A cheaper option is available for the 1m long version.
3D Multi-Coloured Moon Lamp
Sensory Touch & Light Toy – With Rechargeable Battery & Colour Changing LEDs
Moon Lamp, PREKIAR 16 Colors 15cm LED 3D Print Moon Light with Stand & Remote & Touch Control and USB...
- 【3D Print&Saft】The star moon lamp with its diameter 5.9 in/15cm and is 100% made up by 3D print in order to recovery the moon's rear texture; its main material is PLA, The production process is pollution-free to realizes circulation in nature, which is non-toxic and harmless to the human body.
- 【Touching control】Moon lamp with 16 color RGB, and the 16 colors can flash or fade or strobe or smooth. Use the remote control/touch the button to change the color and brightness of the lamp and also to turn on or turn off the light,which only working effectively within 3M without obstacles.
Suitable For : 2 Years+ | Size : 15cm
Features : Rechargeable Battery, Multiple Colours, Tactile & Strong Build
I bought one of these for my son’s 2nd birthday. He has an affinity for the moon but my daughter has absolutely fallen in love with it as well! These 3D moons are made of fairly strong plastic (my son has been throwing it and banging it and it still works)!
It has 3 different colour options – White, Orange & Pulsing LEDs – you have to tap the moon to change the colour and double tap to activate the “breathing” function, which changes the brightness. They make fantastic night lights as well. It’s hours of fun for spectrum & non-spectrum kids and it doesn’t break the bank.
We were surprised to see that on the lowest brightness setting it lasts just over 2 days without needing a recharge – it takes about 4 hours to completely replenish the battery via the microusb (same plug as most smartphones) and it will still work while charging.
Available in 10cm size as well.
- Re-Chargable Battery (Cable Supplied)
- Touch & Light Sensory
- Tactile & Strong Build
- Can Be Tricky to Get the Right Light Setting
NRS Healthcare Children’s Dark Den
Portable Therapist Recommended Sensory Room
- Darkened play area ortent for children at home or in school
- Can be used as relaxing, quiet space - ideal for children with special needs
- Use with lighted objects and UV equipment for fun and to stimulate visual senses
- Easy to assemble with portable bag.Size: 1000 mm (39 inch) cubed
- Side flaps for observation purposes
Suitable For : 2-6 Years+ | Size : 100cm x 100cm x 100cm
Features : Side Flaps for Observation, Darkened Play Area, Ideal for Lights & UV Equipment
These therapist recommended dark dens are a great way to offer your child a quiet and secluded space away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. NRS also offer an accessory kit (which we feel is somewhat overpriced but takes the hassle out of sources the products yourself).
Measuring in at 1x1x1m this small sensory den is portable and lightweight as well as being easy to install. A larger version (1.8m x 1.2m x 1.2m) is also available for ~£85 more.
National Geographic Glow in the Dark Moon and Stars
Cheap Glow in the Dark Moon & Stars
- RESPECTED QUALITY - Providing children with the best educational toys, this kit comes with National Geographic's 100% satisfaction guarantee
- EDUCATIONAL AND FUN - With National Geographic's full-color learning guide, children will learn the science of the moon, stars, and space!
- INCLUDES A REAL METEORITE - Kids will love this genuine meteorite from space. This makes the perfect addition to any rock collection!
Suitable For : All Ages | Size : Varies
Features : 50 Glow-in-the-Dark Stars & Moon Shapes
I remember having these as a child and they haven’t changed a bit. These glow in the dark stars (and moon) are educational and offer a limited amount of light for bed times.
They’re cheap and easy to install.
- Easy to Install
- None @ This Price
PlayLearn 6ft Bubble Tube Water Feature
Light Visual Sensory Toy
Playlearn Bubble Tube - Extra Large (183cm / 6ft) Bubble Lamp incl 15 fish, balls, LED colour changing lights
- SENSORY STIMULATION: LED lights change bubble colors and pretend fish bob in the tank, as the pump hums gently. This combination stimulates the senses, great for children with autism, special needs and ADHD. 183cm Tall x 15cm Diameter Tube - Includes 15 floating fish
- DECORATIVE DISPLAY: This is a great way to improve the décor of your dining room, bedroom, living room or even an office or doctor's waiting area. It is a LED floor lamp, fish tank and column fountain all in one. Suitable for professional use, as part of sensory treatment
Suitable For : All Ages | Size : 6ft
Features : Remote Control, Colour Changing LEDs, Stainless Steel Base
PlayLearn have an array of large water feature sensory toys perfect for kids on the spectrum. They’re not cheap but they come well rated and highly recommended.
- Colourful & Safe
- Multi Featured
- Sturdy & Robuts
- Requires Distilled Water
Mathmos Space Projector
Calming Light Projecting Device
Suitable For : All Ages | Size : Projection up to 4m in Diameter
Features : Multiple Effects Available, 1500 Hour Bulbs
These space projectors are made by the creators of the lava lamp. The projectors are easy to setup and use and make for a great night light.
Additional colours and oil packs are available.
- Sensory Light Projection
- Excellent Night Light
- Multiple Effects Available for Purchase
- Somewhat Expensive
GlowArt Drawing Board
Interactive UV Drawing Board – Perfect for Christmas
- Create amazing glowing pictures that transform and change colour
- 36 built in lighting effects make your art come to life…
- 4 Florescent Glow Markers
- Easy to trace your favourite images
Suitable For : 3+ | Size : A4
Features : Backlit UV Drawing Board + 4 UV Pens
I bought one of these for my eldest daughter (the Crayola version that was on offer in B&M) and she absolutely loves it. It is an easy-clean wipe down board with a backlight that offers multiple lighting effects which make your drawing really come to life.
- Multiple Lighting Effects
- UV Fun – Great in Tandem With a Dark Den
- Pens Can Be Messy
American DJ Colour Changing Rocket Tube Light
Affordable & Relaxing Sensory Light
- 40-inch/ 1000mm led color tube with uv-resistant polycarbonate tubing
- 15 exciting led colors plus white
- Each unit includes one easy-to-use wireless remote to control: manual color change; auto color change; flash; rainbow effect; slow to fast color strobing; on/off
- Rainbow color effect
Suitable For : 3+ | Size : 1m Tall
Features : Remote Controlled Mains Operated LED Rocket Light
A cheaper alternative sensory light for slightly older children. This 1 metre tall LED light is mains operated and comes with a remote control (CR2025 battery not included).
With colour changing features and strobe / smooth / flash & fade functions to keep your child entertained.
- Multiple Lighting Effects
- Some Users Have Complained That the Base Isn’t Sturdy
1m Tall Bubble Tube LED with Fish & Balls
Alternative & Affordable Bubble Tubes
- Updated to New Model - Ideal For Homes, Schools and Sensory Rooms!
- Supplied now with 8 Premium Multi Coloured Plastic Fish!
- Creates a Calming, Relaxing Atmosphere!
- Silver base and cap
- Dimensions: approx. 100cms x 21cms x 21cms
Suitable For : 3+ | Size : 1m Tall
Features : Bubble Tube, LEDs, Fish & Balls
Another alternative bubble tube. These are fantastic alternatives if you don’t want to fork out £200+ for a 2m tall bubble tube.
At just under £50 these make a great gift for autistic children of all ages.
- 1m Tall Bubble Tube
- Multiple Colours
- Sturdy Build
- Motor Is Noisy – We Recommend Placing This on a Foam Floor Tile” locale=”UK” tag=”patiomate-21″]Foam Floor Tile[/easyazon_link] to Insulate the Noise
LED Cube Stool / Table
Great Playroom or Sensory Room Furniture
12-inch Color-Changing LED Light Cube Stool, 16 RGB Colors with Dimmable Brightness, 4 Light Modes, Remote Control, Rechargeable Mood Night...
- [30CM CUBE SEAT / END TABLE]: Made from extra heavy duty polyethylene plastic, supports up to 300 pounds of standing/sitting, you can use it as a unique stool or a small bedside table without fearing it snaps under pressure
- [MULTICOLORED ATMOSPHERE LIGHT]: 16 adjustable colors with 8 Brightness level on each; 4 lighting effect with 8-level rhythm control; easy to find your preference colour, brightness, colour-changing mode & chasing speed to create a nice mood scene or adding party efect
Suitable For : All Ages | Size : 30cm x 30cm
Features : Rechargeable Battery, Multiple Colours & Sizes Available
We love these little LED cubes. They make great furniture for the kids and they adore them.
The built in rechargeable batteries means that they’re affordable and they last for 10-12 hours during the day as well!
- Fantastic Sensory Furniture
- Can Be Used as a Table or Stool
- Rechargeable Battery
Best Selling Sensory Toys
That’s it from us today. If you have any recommendations or would like to leave a review of any of the above items below please do so as we’d love to hear from you!
Last update on 2023-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API