Autism spectrum disorder comes in varying degrees of functioning and several varieties. However, some practices help establish higher functioning in all children on the spectrum. These games typically focus on strategies for learning and communicating better. These are essential life skills that will determine their long-term success in life in general. Here are some fun, engaging activities that are excellent ways to practice these skills, either as a small group or one-on-one.
1. Watch Shows Including Relatable Characters
These days, many shows and movies, particularly ones made for children, include characters with ASD. For some children, watching shows that feature relatable characters like Bruno Thomas and Friends can help with feelings of being different from their peers. Many people find it helps them feel more normal, seeing that autism is not your identity; you are simply unique.
2. Engage All the Senses
Multisensory thinking is an element of autism that can significantly hinder focus on work that requires using only one of your senses. An ideal way to help kids with autism learn is to engage multiple senses for better focus. This type of teaching will also be more fun for you and the kids.
3. Pretend Play
“What Would You Do?” is an excellent activity for developing empathy, learning better social skills, and maintaining relationships. The adult will ask the children questions from real-life scenarios during this game. These questions are asked individually and have to do with another person or other people. These questions would be similar to the following: “What would you do if you noticed someone bullying your classmate?” or “What would you say if a child took something that belonged to you?” This can be an excellent group activity for kids to hear their peers’ answers and discuss each scenario.
4. Practice Emotional Intelligence Games
Kids with autism have trouble reading the emotions of others. Activities like the “How Would You Feel?” are extremely helpful in putting children in someone else’s place emotionally and correctly interpreting emotional cues. Read a story to your kids and then ask them questions about how they would feel if they experienced certain situations that the characters experienced. This can also teach kids to see life from another’s perspective. This can serve them through life in many respects, like creating better dispute-resolution skills.
5. Create Art
Art is therapeutic, no matter the type. The great thing is that there is something artistic that everyone can enjoy, even if you don’t feel creative. Using crayons to color in coloring pages lets you calm your mind by focusing on the present moment and using your hands.
6. Play Social Games
Group social games are helpful in so many ways with kids on the spectrum. One activity like this has the kids share a fact about themselves one at a time. For example, “I like to draw” or “I have a cat.” Then, everyone in the group to whom that fact applies will raise their hands. This is an exciting way to learn to focus and participate in a group activity. It also helps with communication skills, particularly with kids they don’t know.
7. Play Show and Tell
“Show and Tell” is a popular activity for school-age children but can be especially beneficial for kids with autism. One day a week, have each child bring something interesting to them and tell the class about it. Let the other kids ask questions and discuss it. This is an excellent way for children to share their interests with their peers and learn language skills, including active listening. It’s also a perfect way for your kids to make new friends by discovering common interests.
8. Handle Fidget Toys
Fidget toys are an excellent tool for calming children who struggle with disorders dealing with sensory processing. They help them focus by keeping their hands busy and can also help when they are overwhelmed with emotion. There are wide varieties of fidget toys available. Keep different kinds on hand so all your children can choose one or two. You can even look online for ways to make your own.
Begin implementing these tips in your classroom today. You and your kids will surely enjoy these activities, and you should start noticing improvements in different areas of learning very quickly.