18 Interesting Games and Activities For A Child With Autism

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If you’re raising a child diagnosed with autism, you know the struggles that come with it. However, both you and your child are brave enough to face it and find ways to achieve things in life, and for that, kudos to you. In this post, we have listed several activities for children with autism so that you can involve them in fun and cool playtime moments with you or other kids.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurobiological health condition that affects normal brain development. It affects a person’s communication skills and also leads to several behavioral and social challenges.

The ‘spectrum’ in ASD means the ASD symptoms and the severity of these symptoms may differ for each person. Some people with ASD may have exceptional learning and problem-solving abilities while others may struggle with simple learning tasks. (1)

You have to involve children with autism in activities to bridge the gap between them and their surrounding environment. Below are a few indoor and outdoor games and activities you can teach your toddler and younger kids.

Fun Indoor Activities For Children With Autism

These autism games and activities can improve social skills as they help strengthen the bond between your child and people around her. You can create fun-filled and engaging activities with a little effort from your side:

1. Create A Shredded Flower Bouquet:

This creative activity involves the ripping and shredding of paper to create a beautiful composition to use as a decorative element. Children with autism who require special needs will love the sensory touch of handling paper and playing with shapes and colors.

You Will Need:

  • Watercolor paper – 11” * 17”
  • Flesh colored paper
  • Bright colored construction papers
  • Green colored construction papers – various shades
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

How To Do:

  1. Take a flesh colored paper and let your little one trace his or her hand and arm. Cut out the trace.
  2. Keep a watercolor paper in a portrait style.
  3. Now lay the paper hand across the bottom of the watercolor paper and see to it that the fingers touch the end of the paper.
  4. Cut the arm part and glue it on the watercolor paper.
  5. Now help your child cut and tear long thin stems of green papers, then leaf shapes including small and big, flat and round, and thin and long.
  6. Place the stems in between the fingers, a few overlapping the thumb and most going beneath the fingers.
  7. Apply glue and then paste the stems at the bottom. Do not stick at the top.
  8. Now try to make the fingers hold the flowers by folding the fingers under and glue them. Or you can even snip the fingers off to show an effect of bent fingers.
  9. Paste the leaves on and around the stems.
  10. Now cut or rip the colored paper to various petal shapes.
  11. Paste the petals. Try to overlap the stems and petals as much as possible so that the activity looks beautiful.

2. Underwater I Spy Alphabet Bottle:

Sparkling water is one such activities for children with autism social skills to attract. Here is a great alphabet bottle activity that helps to keep your little one focused and engaged. Your kids can recognize letters in a creative manner through the shiny floating sequins.

You Will Need:

  • Plastic soda or empty water bottle
  • Alphabet beads
  • Sequins
  • Glitter
  • Water
  • Corn syrup
  • Highlighter
  • Paper sheet
  • Glue gun

How To Do:

  1. Take all the beads from A to Z and place them on the table. Ask your child to drop those letters one by one into the bottle.
  2. Your child can then drop sequins followed by glitter.
  3. Fill half of the bottle with water and another half with corn syrup. The role of corn syrup is to slow down the motion of the elements present inside, and it also prevents the glitter from sticking together.
  4. Apply glue to the lid so that the liquid inside will not spill.
  5. Shake the bottle and let your little one watch it. Ask her to find each letter and spot the letters in her name by shaking the bottle.

Free Worksheets and Printables for Kids

3. Paint With Ice:

Kids love swirling the paint on paper to create beautiful patterns. It helps them to improve their color observation and recognition skills. This is an interesting learning activity for toddlers and preschoolers with autism.

You Will Need:

Liquid egg tempera paint
Craft sticks
Ice cube tray
Plastic wrap
Paper

How To Do:

  1. Ask your child to pour paint into the ice tray and let herself analyze how many colors of cubes she wants.
  2. Have her keep a craft stick into the middle of each cube. If the sticks cannot stay standing, cover the tray with a plastic wrap and then poke them through the wrap.
  3. Now let her keep the tray in the freezer until the color cubes form.
  4. Once the water freezes, ask your little one to choose one color cube.
  5. Holding the craft stick, she can swirl the paint cube on the paper. It leaves a beautiful stream of paint on the paper.
  6. Ask her to take different cubes and repeat the same.
  7. You can discuss things like how the paint transformed when kept in the freezer, what is happening when it is on the paper, how does it melt and more.

4. Practice Paint Chip Storytelling:

Narrating a story is just like painting a picture where words are used instead of paint. Here, your little tot takes the help of paint chips and words to narrate a story. This helps to improve her narrative and imaginative abilities.

You Will Need:

  • Color sample cards that have interesting names
  • Pen and paper
  • Glue
  • Dictionary

How To Do:

  1. Let your kid pick five color sample cards with interesting names from which she can build a story. To make the story more interesting, you can ask her to pick random cards.
  2. If she is not aware of the words, let her check for the meaning in a dictionary.
  3. Now, she should think about how to link those five names to create a story.
  4. For instance, if she has names of Annie, Skating Pond, Cherry Lipstick, Pearl and Hat, she has to think of a story that has all these names. Each word should be present in one paragraph. The paragraphs should link together as a story.
  5. Now ask her to stick the color sample words next to each paragraph. Add color to the pages.

While your little one reads aloud the story, you can understand her creative skills, suggest new words, point out the language and discuss it so as to improve her creative skills.

5. Making Shapes:

These are beautiful matching learning activities for children with autism to introduce to the concept of puzzles. A craft stick contains only a half shape, and you need to find the other half and place them side by side to complete the shape.

You Will Need:

  • 20 craft sticks
  • Markers of different colors

How To Do:

  1. Place two craft sticks next to each other. Ask your child to draw a shape such that when you split those two sticks, the shape is equally present on the two.
  2. Let your little one create as many stick pairs as possible.
  3. Now ask her to mix all the sticks.
  4. Your child can find the sticks and join them to create the correct shapes.

Let your kid take up the shapes of a square, circle and triangle and whatever is easy. Help your little one understand the concept of symmetry so that she draws symmetric shapes.

6. Sculpt Clay Snowflakes:

You can have your child make sparkling snowflakes and thus experience the winter from your home. Sculpting clay is an amazing way to boost your little one’s motor skills and improve the sensory experience of pulling, kneading and squishing.

You Will Need:

  • Air-dry white clay
  • Glitter in opal and silver shades
  • Clay molding tools like craft sticks, pencil erasers and a spoon
  • Egg tempera paint
  • Thin paint brush

How To Do:

  1. Help your kid prepare the clay to create sculptures. Let them start pulling and kneading it. Once it turns soft, add glitter and tell her to knead again.
  2. Once that is mixed properly, help her mold the clay into snowflakes. Encourage her to design a variety of shapes by using modeling tools as well.
  3. Let her add color by using tempera paint. Leave it for a while to dry.

Teach your kid about the symmetry of hexagon by this activity.

7. Make Number Rubbings:

Children love crayons, and you can put this art by introducing them to rubbings. It helps to improve eye-hand coordination and works the small muscles of hands.

You Will Need:

  • Paper
  • Black color marker
  • Blank paper – 10 pieces with one number on each
  • Objects with different textures – 10, can be leaves, coins, sandpaper, etc.
  • Pencil
  • Safety scissors
  • Lined paper
  • Crayons

How To Do:

  1. Draw one to ten umbers on blank papers, one number on each sheet. Draw blocked, big and outlined numbers for easy coloring.
  2. Help your child make a design by placing a texture below the paper and rubbing a crayon on it.
  3. Sit with your child and explain her to do textures corresponding with the number page. For instance, if it is page 2, ask her to draw two different textures and make a design of it.

It is a great fun activity for kids with autism that teaches math. It helps kids connect numbers with objects to represent the number.

8. Finding Toys:

Here is another activity that helps improve your child’s sensory skills by touching and feeling various things.

  1. Take a large plastic tub and fill with beans or beads.
  2. Hide as many toys as you can inside the box.
  3. Now ask your little one to put her hand into the box and take out the toy by feeling each one.

9. Finger Painting:

It is a bit messy but helps your child learn much about colors. It makes your little one feel different textures by touch and will help lower sensory issues.

  • Place tiny blobs of paint of various colors on paper. Then ask your kid to mix those paints using her fingers.
  • Create words, numbers, shapes and various other patterns in the paint and keep a white paper on the top to create a stamp of finger painting.

10. Song Time:

If your child with autism cannot speak, she would have at least gifted with humming, or playing instruments like keyboards, piano or drums. Try singing a song and ask her hum or create a new tone with any instrument. It will improve her sensory simulation.

[ Read: Activities For Teenagers With Autism ]

No matter what activities for kids with autism you have in mind, the primary challenge lies in choosing the right activity and engaging them in it. Encourage his or her performance in every activity as these autism activities would help your kid connect and communicate with others in a better way!

Fun Games For Child With Autism

Children with autism go through various difficulties every day. They have difficulty understanding human relationships and intimacy. You can take them out, soak them in the sun, and notice a significant change in their behavior. Try the following outdoor and indoor games for children with autism of all ages.

Outdoor Games For Children With Autism

1. Obstacle Course:

Outdoors provide significant obstacle courses. You can make your little one run around a bush, jump over a stick, down the slide and hug a tree. You do not require any equipment, and it will greatly enhance your kid’s obstacle course options. Be as creative as you can.

2. Hide N’ Seek:

This game can never turn old. People love playing it indoors, but outdoor playing is great. Children giggle and laugh when they see someone hiding behind a tree. You can integrate counting, visual perception and turn-taking into the game.

3. Head To The Playground:

Who will not love a playground? It is a perfect area for children to improve their motor skills, balance, confidence, social skills and vestibular orientation. There is no need for panic or hover for their safety. Just stay close in reach and encourage them to go around different slides and swings.

4. Water Therapy:

Wait for the rains to arrive and then you can send them outside. You should not bother whether they are with raincoats or not. Just let them get soaked or handover an umbrella. Give them a broom to slosh away the water and buckets to collect it. The rains will offer a sensory integration episode.

5. Rolling Along:

Bicycles, skateboards, and scooters encourage balance, linear acceleration and motor planning, which are all essential for sensory processing. Make sure they wear pads and helmets all the time. Teach them to pedal the bike by lowering their seat for their feet to touch the ground. Once they learn walking and pushing, you can ask them to raise the seat.

Caution:

  • Do not leave your kids unattended.
  • Give them proper shoes
  • Apply sunscreen all over their exposed skin

Indoor Games For Children With Autism

1. Colored Beans:

You Will Need:

  • Lima beans or pinto beans
  • Tupperware or Glad ware container/bag
  • Food color
  • Paper towel

How To Do:

  1. Ask your child to take a cup of beans into a glad ware container or a bag. Now add 15 drops of any food color you wish.
  2. Now close the lid or cover the bag and shake for about 10 to 15 seconds until you find all the beans are colored.
  3. Spread them evenly on a paper towel and leave them for drying.
  4. Likewise, you can prepare as many color beans as your child wants. These colored beans will last for several months when stored in an airtight container.
  5. Your kid will have fun moving and running their fingers through the beans.

2. Rainbow Ice Excavation:

You Will Need:

  • A few bits and pieces in different colors or rainbow colors
  • Large container or vase
  • Water

How To Do:

  1. Ask your child to gather various bits and pieces
  2. Take a large container, probably a tall one and measure its capacity.
  3. Divide six layers, add water up to one layer, and then place red color bits and pieces. Place it in the freezer for some time. Take it out and add a second layer of water. Now add orange color bits. Freeze for some more time. Repeat this for six layers.
  4. Once everything is frozen, remove the ice tower by running water over the container and keep it upside down.
  5. You will get an ice tower with which your little one can have fun with.

3. Balloon Paint Stamping:

You Will Need:

  • Balloon
  • Paint of any color
  • Paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Button

How To Do:

  1. Blow up a balloon and give it to your kid. Ask her to dip it in paint.
  2. Now let her stamp in the center of your paper to form a circle.
  3. Dip your finger into the paint and ask her to stamp on either side of the circle for creating ears.
  4. Glue in googly eyes on the paint.
  5. Glue the button nose and allow it for drying.

Taking care of a child with autism, especially if you’re attempting to teach them, can be a difficult aspect of your daily routine as a parent. However, all indoor and outdoor activities for children with autism described above will help them learn while having fun. These activities also provide avenues to develop their social skills by allowing them to interact with other children and adults. Remember to get your child involved in these activities and make sure you also join the fun with them.

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Catherine Mok

Catherine Mok is a therapist at Austin Family Counseling. She specializes in working with children, adolescents, parents, individuals and families using a collaborative and client-centered approach tailored to the unique needs of each client. She uses a variety of therapeutic methods including Play Therapy, Sandtray Therapy, Attachment theory, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, and Strength-based Therapy. She is also... more

Manjiri Kochrekar

Manjiri is a freelance writer with experience in writing on a wide range of topics, including travel, education, yoga, and children’s activities, fun and learning. She is passionate about creative writing and loves to put her thoughts into words. Manjiri excels in breaking down complex information, ideas and aspects of life into simpler elements for an easy read.