Mattel Debuts Autism-Friendly Hot Wheels Car

Hot Wheels is rolling out the Flippin Fast die-cast, marking the start of Autism Awareness Month. With a design inspired by a fidget spinner, the toy is more versatile than Hot Wheels’ other cars. It can be flipped, spun, and rolled forwards, backward and upside down.

With a design validated by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the idea was to build a Hot Wheels car that enables more open-ended play and provides a different -- and more soothing -- play experience.

It’s not Mattel’s first step into the world of autism spectrum disorder. In 2022, the company introduced Bruno the Brake Car, the first character with autism in the Thomas & Friends franchise. (Chuck Smith, a young actor with autism, voices Bruno.)

The company says the die-cast, priced at $1.25, fits in with Hot Wheels “challenger spirit” brand positioning and is one of the most versatile vehicles on the road.



The Americans With Disabilities Act has been in place since 1990, and while many specialty toy companies exist, mainstream brands have been slower to keep up. Becky, a doll introduced into the Barbie-verse in 1997, was discontinued early on when it became clear to users that there was no room for her wheelchair in Barbie’s cars and dreamhouses.

Since then, the company has intensified efforts to represent all kinds of people: Sharp eyes could spot wheelchair Barbie in the big dance scene of last year’s “Barbie.” A doll with a prosthetic arm also appeared in the movie as an aide to President Barbie.

And the company recently debuted a Barbie with Down syndrome.

Attitudes about kids with autism spectrum disorder and play continue to evolve as experts learn more about just how varied neurodivergent experiences are. Fidget spinners became a global craze in 2017, helping kids with anxiety, ADHD and trouble focusing. However, their widespread popularity has proved that many kids enjoy different sensory experiences and that toys can help them feel better.

The CDC recently reported that the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to rise. One in 36 eight-year-olds have been diagnosed, up from one in 44 in the 2021 report.

Advocates continue to push for early identification. When kids are diagnosed by age four, they are more likely to get services and achieve better outcomes.

Autism Acceptance Month is backed by the Autism Society of America, and this is the sixth year of the annual #CelebrateDifferences campaign.

Corporate partners include Goodnites, which works with the group to overcome bedwetting stigma; Chrysler, which supports driving needs; Pura Vida; iHeart Radio, and Netflix, which produces “Love on the Spectrum,” a dating reality show.

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