Amazon & Autism :: A Summer Shopping Guide for Indoor Play

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Amazon & Autism :: A Summer Shopping Guide for Indoor Play

It can be overwhelming and exhausting trying to find activities and toys to keep our kiddos busy during the muggy summer months, especially when you have an Autistic toddler. We moved to New Orleans in May 2022, and have spent much of the last two summer afternoons indoors, whether it was due to a rainy day, or it was just unbearably hot and humid outside. We ventured out in the early mornings to beat the heat and noontime rains (our favorite place was the toddler area at the Children’s Museum, but my girl was always ready to jet after 45 minutes max). The frequent snowball, then time to retreat into the AC.

While my 7-year-old is away at summer camps, Rosie and I are home and always in need of things to do in the afternoons once she is finished with Speech and OT therapies. My sweet, spunky, and silly girl is nonverbal, Level 3 Autistic, and has PICA and Global Developmental Delay. She is my dream girl in every way, however, navigating these areas are often challenging with selecting activities and toys for her. Many toddler toys and activities are hard no’s for her (store bought Play-Doh, crayons, paint, sensory activities, etc. They all go straight to her mouth). I spent a lot of time researching and reading Amazon reviews and Special Needs mom blogs and wanted to put together a tried-and-true list that I hope others find helpful. These items are great for neurotypical kiddos as well, as my Dezi loves playing with his little sis.

These are items that we have acquired over the years, some we’ve saved up for, or asked grandparents and relatives to chip in for birthdays and Christmas, and some I purchased secondhand on FB Marketplace. They have not only helped to keep Rosie busy, but they have also helped her with proprioceptive “work,” fine motor skill development, and so much more!


Use at your own risk. I think every kid, and parent for that matter, benefits from the indoor exercise and stimulation from a trampoline. As Rosie became more skilled at jumping on her own, we upgraded to the larger, enclosed trampoline. We have incorporated a jump session in the late afternoons, to help tire her own before wind-down time. She’s even fallen asleep for naptime in the trampoline!

Indoor Jungle Gym Playset:

This was and still is worth every penny. We asked both sets of grandparents to chip in for Dezi and Rosie’s birthdays (they are a month apart) and bought this right when we moved in. It has been amazing to watch Rosie’s development as she learns and figures out how to climb, go down the slide, and swing. We throw a blanket over it every now and then and her little couch, and the two snuggle up in their “fort.” We had OT therapy play sessions, we enjoy it during playdates, and we cannot recommend it enough.

Sensory Tents:

We took this to parades, now set it up in the living room every now and then, the backyard, you name it, she loves it. It saved us during Mardi Gras, where she had a place to nap, and could easily do the same on beach trips. We put a tarp down underneath it during the parades, foam mats inside, and threw in a blanket and pillows, and she was happy. (We do not travel light to the parades, as we set up a whole base camp for her. More on that later). I don’t love that there’s no air circulation if totally closed, but I just keep the front panel rolled up enough to get air flow inside. I bring it out every few weeks now into our living room and do the same setup. We give her the tablet for a little bit, or her mobile ceiling lights (will be mentioned). She loves dark, enclosed spaces for self-regulating and calm down time. There are tons of other great options online.


We first discovered these at the Children’s Museum, and they are one of her favorite toys. I keep a few in the car, the diaper bag, and if and when we travel. Not much else to say other than they are great and has helped with social play with Dezi and other littles.

Water Table:
OK, so I know I said that this was for indoor play, and this is great for both, indoor and outdoor! This saved me a few times when it was raining outside, when she still wanted water play. I throw down a big beach towel, a very small plastic pool to catch the splashes of water and then put just enough water for her to play. (Walmart or Dollar General are the cheapest I’ve found). The first time we introduced water tables to her, Rosie tried to climb in, which made it rather difficult, since we couldn’t explain verbally that she was too big. We’ve tried out a few tables over the years, and this one helped to deter the climbing in. This would even work in the bathtub, if you have carpet, or don’t want to risk big splashes. (Another bigger option can be found here.)

Butterfly & Star Ceiling Projector Light:
This is so easy to set up inside of the tent, in a dark room, or in our closet. And it can be charged, so if she decides to walk around with it and play, there are no cord trip hazards, etc.

Match UP Memory Snack Tray:
I first saw this on Instagram on a major food stylist’s page, and I thought it was absolutely genius. It not only serves a great play function, but great for fine motor skill development, memory and problem-solving building, and more. It’s dishwasher safe and would be great for a long road trip! I bought a second one for Dezi too!

Elefun Game:
This has been around for a while, and really is a fantastic game to keep her busy. She still tries to put the butterflies in her mouth every now and then but is overjoyed when they spring from the elephant’s trunk.

Turtle Balance Steppingstones:
This is one we have Dezi get involved in, and Rosie does her best to follow his lead. He loves obstacle courses, so naturally he finds a ninja warrior path on these. For Rosie, it’s more proprioceptive input, gradual sequencing when she creates a path herself, and more. I like that they are easy to stack, and clean once little feet have gleefully bounced on them.

Of course, there are so many other great options out there, from ball pits and tunnel tents to sensory boxes and more. And every child, whether neurotypical or neurodivergent, has different interests and needs. I hope that this brief list helps another momma out, especially when we are heading into the “I’m so bored” season.

Ashley Volet
Ashley is a wife and mom of four, who moved with her family from her home state of California to New Orleans in May 2022. Her oldest son is heading off to LSU this summer, has sons in 8th and1st grade, and a 4-year-old daughter that is highly special needs. Her husband attended Tulane and culinary school in New Orleans and is now a Business Analyst. Ashley owns Sorrenteaux Boards in Lakeview, where she specializes in "Elevated Artisan Charcuterie" and more. When Ashley isn't creating edible food art, she is exploring her favorite city with her family, drinking iced coffee, counting down the days to Carnival Season, and dreaming she was on a tropical beach vacation, in either Hawaii or the Caribbean. Her favorite King Cake is Brennan's Bananas Foster.


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