We have a long history of discovering ways to play together with autistic kids. Bede is 14 now, but was a toddler once, and Clementine is 3. These are toys they like. (These toys are great for any kids, of course.) None of them are electronic and all invite interaction.
Melissa and Doug magnetic letters – These don’t have separate magnets to choke on. They’re not waterproof, but that’s not a problem unless your kid chews on them. Bede and Clementine are both VERY INTO LETTERS.
Foam bath letters – Bede used these to spell for years before he talked. It was amazing to see. Little odd kid, frequently naked and feral, spelling “HI DADDY” is just the best.
Plan Toys Water Blocks – My autistic kids can be delighted by looking through things for a very long time. We therefore call toys like this “look-throughs.” These are really sturdy and go with other unit blocks, like…
Melissa and Doug unit blocks – I bought two sets ten years ago and they are still going strong.
Uncle Goose blocks – these are the BEST. Roman (English) alphabet, sure, but also Spanish! Hebrew! Persian! Constellations or nursery rhymes! Periodic table! I think we need another set because there are a few new ones we don’t have…
Safari, Ltd TOOB sets – These are little plastic animals/people/things that go together, like jungle animals, or dinosaurs. They also have fairies, dragons, architectural wonders, bugs… Clementine likes things that Are Different But The Same So They Go Together.
I’ll get a post up soon about books for autistic preschoolers and little kids too.