Fun Activities and Games for Autistic Children

Engaging Activities and Games for Autistic Children

Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is an umbrella term that includes various neuro-behavioural conditions, such as ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Intellectual disability and so on. These issues can impact a child’s ability to communicate as well as causes problems with social behaviour.

Different children will experience differing levels of severity. Some kids might have extremely high logical intelligence while lacking emotional range, whereas others might struggle with basic tasks like dressing or feeding themselves. Nevertheless, while children with ASD are as receptive to affection and compassion as others, they often have greater emotional requirements. As a parent, having a child with ASD can be an exhausting job, but it is your responsibility to take those extra steps to help your child develop confidence and become well-adjusted.

Children with ASD are less likely to learn through conventional education like reading and writing; rather, they prefer activities that stimulate their senses. Arts, crafts, games and so on can help your child boost their attention spans, interest, expressiveness while calming them down, lowering anxiety and stress levels. These activities can also help them develop their motor, language and social skills. There are many fun activities and games that you can introduce to your child. Some of them have been described below.

Fun Activities for Autistic Children

Here are a few wonderful activities for kids with autism.

1. I-Spy Bottle

This is an easy activity that can sharpen your kid’s neurocognitive development and focus. The amazing colours, shapes, and sparkles make this game interesting enough to hold the attention of easily distracted children.

What You Need

  • An empty Jar or Bottle
  • small shiny items like Sequins, Buttons, Beads and so on
  • A Packet of Glitter
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Water
  • Corn Syrup
  • Alphabet Tiles
  • Piece of Paper

How to Do It

Start by telling your kid to write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper. Add all the solid objects in the above list into the jar, then fill it with half corn syrup and half water. Close the bottle with a lid and seal it shut with tape or glue. Shake well and give it to your child. Now they have to locate all the alphabet tiles in there, marking on the paper when they find each one.

2. Ice Cube Watercolour

This fun activity will challenge and captivate your kid. It aims to bolster their identification and differentiation skills, and consequently their proficiency at observational abilities as well as motor skills.

What You Need

  • Ice tray
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Ice cream sticks
  • A4 Paper
  • Water
  • Aluminium Foil

How to Do It

Blend different paints in water and pour them into different sections of the ice tray. Put ice cream sticks in each section, using aluminium foil to hold them in place. After the ice cubes are formed, let your children use them to paint on pieces of paper.

3. Tactile Tray

This is a sensory activity for children with autism that can help them understand and integrate sensory experiences.

What You Need

  • Tray
  • Buttons
  • Beads
  • Paper Strips
  • Uncooked Rice/Wheat/Dal
  • Confetti

How to Do It

Mix all the objects in a wide tray. Let your kid have fun just sifting, spilling, arranging them. You can increase the difficulty level by making sections in the tray that only contain one type of item, or sort them by colours, shapes, sizes, and so on.

4. Smell Zones

The smell is another important, yet neglected sensory experience.

What You Need

  • Small Plastic Boxes
  • Strips of Paper
  • Different Aromas such as ginger, lemon, rose, and so on
  • You can also use essential oils like Jasmine, Lemongrass and Lavender as they can be relaxing.

Note: Please research the oils beforehand to ensure they are suitable for children. Children can be allergic to chemicals that may be present in these oils.

How to Do It

Mix the aromatic substances into the strips of paper to impart the smell. Put the same fragrance on multiple strips. Mix all the strips together and ask your child to categorise them based on smell alone. They can then place the matching strips in individually labelled boxes and smell them whenever they want.

5. Clay Sculpting

A universal children’s activity, clay or plasticine moulding is an excellent way to enhance your kid’s motor skills, imagination and conception.

What You Need

  • Sculpting Clay for Kids (several brands are available)

How to Do It

Sit your kids down at a table or on the floor and give them the clay. The feeling of the clay changing shape as it is moved around will please them. You can also sit with them for a fun afternoon of creating little clay shapes. Joint activities like these are a great way to bond with kids with ASD, especially non-verbal ones.

Child playing with modelling clay

6. Colourful Ice Mining

An enjoyable treasure hunt activity that can help with your children’s sensory integration and motor skills

What You Need

  • Small Toys
  • Sequins
  • Bottle Caps
  • Chickpeas
  • Plastic Container
  • Water

How to Do

Pour water into the container until around a fifth of it is filled. Freeze it. Add assorted objects. Pour another fifth of water. Repeat this process to create your ice tower. Now your kids can find all the objects in the tower by making the ice melt using warm water, spoon, salt, etc.

7. Shape Making

This is an engrossing activity that introduces symmetry and shapes to young children with ASD.

What You Need

  • Twenty ice cream sticks
  • Different colour markers

How to Do It

Keep two ice cream sticks next to one another, and ask your little one to draw a simple shape on both of them. The shape must be split in two when the sticks are separated. Let them draw as many shapes as they want, preferably simply geometric shapes. Then mix the sticks together and ask them to find the pairs that combine to give the right shape.

Games for Kids with Autism

Here are some interesting games to play with kids with autism.

Indoor Games for Autistic Children

1. Sensory Detective

A touch-based game that will train your children to trust their sensory experiences and enhance their tactile abilities.

What You Need

  • Beads
  • Dried Beans
  • Rice/Wheat/Dal
  • Small Toys
  • Bucket

How to Play

Mix all the objects in a deep bucket. Make sure you bury all the toys well. Now ask your child to find all the toys in a particular order with their eyes closed and only by using their sense of touch.

2. Web Walking

This game is great to keep your kid with ASD busy while sharpening their balance, motor skills and spelling ability.

What You Need

  • A4 paper with single alphabets on them
  • Painter’s tape
  • Marker pen
  • Pair of scissors
  • Card stock

How to Play

First write different words on the card stocks, such as animals, birds, places, family members, friends and so on. Then use the painter’s tape to create a spider web pattern on the floor. At each vertex on the web, place the piece of paper with a letter on it. Now read out the name on each card and ask your child to walk along with the spider web to the letters required to spell the word. The challenge is that they have to bend down and pick up letters in the right order without touching any wrong letters.

3. Match The Card

This is a wonderful game that improves your child’s skills of picking up information and gathering knowledge. You can use it to complement their schoolwork.

What You Need

  • Clothes Clips
  • Different cards with pictures of flowers, fruits, letters, and so on
  • Pieces of Paper

How to Play

Write down the names of the pictures on each card on individual scraps of paper. Stick these scraps to different clothes clips. Now place a few cards on the table, and ask your kid to attach the clothes clips to the matching card.

4. Footprint Painting

This game will keep your kid busy while sharpening their balance and motor skills.

What You Need

  • Large roll of paper
  • Paints
  • Paper towel
  • Water

How to Play

Make a circle or any other desired shape on the large sheet of paper. Now paint your child’s feet with their favourite colour and ask them to make footprints around it, or just let them go freeform.

Outdoor Games for Children with Autism

Going outdoors is always a great way to get some exercise and have some fun at the same time. The fresh air, the warmth of the sun and surrounding greenery all contribute to a fun experience.

1. Obstacle Course

A game that can be conjured up in minutes, it’s sure to push your kids to their limits (in a fun way)!

What You Need

  • Nothing at all

How to Play

Take your kid outside to a place they feel safe, maybe a backyard, garden or the nearby park. Tell them to run around objects like trees, benches or bushes, jump across puddles, turn around in place, walk a specific number of steps. It is up to your creative imagination to make it as complex or simple as you think your child can handle.

2. Rain Dance

A rainy day may seem like a bad situation for most kids. However, you can make it fun by doing a fun activity such as dancing.

What You Need

  • Sunscreen
  • Umbrella
  • Rubber shoes

How to Play

It is a complete myth that getting wet in the rain makes one sick. Staying home all day in the rainy season gets really dull, especially for restless kids. The next time it rains, let them go out and play. You can give them an umbrella just in case. Rain dances are a sensory experience that they will certainly enjoy. However, don’t forget to apply sunscreen on any exposed skin and make sure you keep an eye on them at all times.

3. Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a time-honoured tradition that is played by children in most countries.

What You Need

  • Chalk
  • Small objects like stones

How to Play

Use the chalk to draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground outside. Each participant can use a pebble or bottlecap to mark their place during the game. If you are unaware of how it is played, there are several reference websites to explain the game. This game is great for fine-tuning their physical abilities, motor skills and social interactions.

Girls playing hopscotch

4. Follow the Leader

This game is one of the many group activities available for kids with autism.

What You Need

  • A group of kids

How to Play

The game starts with a selected leader, who stands in front of the others lined up behind them. The leader then does different movements like raising their hands, bending their knees or anything they want. The aim of the game is to mimic the leader’s movements exactly. If a child makes a mistake, they are out of the round. The next leader is the only kid left behind the leader. This game can help boost proprioception, motor skills and sociability.

5. Scavenger Hunt

Tickle their investigative skills by letting them find hidden treasures.

What You Need

  • Chocolate bars
  • Balloons
  • Inexpensive toys
  • A box of crayons

Note: You can tinker with this list and come up with your own treasure ideas as well.

How to Play

Scatter these objects around your home garden or a children’s park. Give your child a list of all the objects you have hidden in the area. If your child is unable to read, give them a list of pictures. Ask them to search around and find all the objects mentioned in the list. Once found, they are to bring them to a designated area and sort them according to the types of objects. This will help them understand how to sort and categorise objects, giving them a sense of arrangement and order which they can sometimes lack.

Children are inquisitive and fascinated by everything they see around them. However, kids with ASD are often unable to communicate their interests or excitement to you. Therefore, coming up with the right activities to stimulate their minds might require some creative thinking. Further, every child with ASD is unique and can be affected by different things. The key is to understand your child, figure out their moods, and use the information to build the appropriate game or activity for them. The activities and games mentioned here are by no means a comprehensive list. You can conjure anything you think that can entertain your kid while still promoting their skill development. Having a child with ASD can be taxing but helping them learn to adjust to society is paramount.

Also Read:

Excellent Books For Children With Autism
Different Types of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism – Signs and Symptoms in Babies

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