Children enjoy diving hands first into play experiences and this includes children with autism too! There are a variety of activities that can be carried out as a means to develop their skills and to help them mingle in a social circle. Activities like building blocks, working on puzzles and drawing pictures will yield skills such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking skills that the children will use throughout their lifetime.
Children use their senses to develop skills during play. A multifunctional toy that involves more than one sense will automatically be more enjoyable for the children. More pathways to brain development are opened and used during multi-sensory play.
In the article below, we will be sharing 5 fun activities for autistic children which can work across all ages!
1. Sensory and Calm-Down Bottles
- Liquid base of your choice (water, hair gel, water beads)
- Ornaments (googly eyes, glitters, small figurines, marbles, etc)
1) Pour the liquid base into the bottle.
2) Add the ornaments that your child prefers into the bottle.
The sensory bottle is done and ready to be played with! Now, let your child enjoy watching the glitters move slowly within the bottle. You can also add paper clips so that kids can use a magnet to attract and move the paper clips from outside! Customize the bottles according to your child’s creativity!
2. Ice Painting
- Ice cube tray
- Food colouring (As many colours as you want)
- Saran Wrap
- Toothpicks (craft sticks)
1) Add 8-10 drops of food colouring into the ice cube tray (The more colouring you add, the darker it will be).
2) Add water into the ice cube tray.
3) Stir the water using toothpicks (craft sticks).
4) Wrap the ice cube tray using the saran wrap.
5) Poke the saran wrap using the toothpicks (craft sticks) to make the ice paint holder.
6) Freeze the ice cube tray for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, the ice paints are now ready for action! Get a paper for your child to create their masterpiece using the ice paint. Do keep in mind that the paint might stain your child’s hands and the surrounding areas. Make sure to cover the floor and wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained.
3. Visual Schedules
- Stationeries (marker pens, colour pencils, ruler, scissors, glue, etc)
- Craft papers
- Velcro tape
- Ornaments (optional)
1) List down your child’s daily tasks such as taking a shower, breakfast, school, etc.
2) Cut the craft paper into shapes preferred by your child. (stars, hearts, squares, etc)
3) Write down your child’s daily tasks onto the craft paper cut-outs.
4) Put one side of the Velcro tape behind the paper cut-outs and another side onto the cardboard.
5) Decorate the schedule using marker pens, colour pencils and the ornaments according to both yours and your child’s creativity.
It’s been proven that many children with autism are visual learners. This means that a picture schedule outlining the steps of a task can be helpful! Even for daily tasks such as taking a shower, a schedule of the steps should be posted so that kids know exactly what to expect and know what comes next. This can be incorporated into play activities too! Once your child is familiar with their daily tasks and how the visual schedules work, ask them to arrange the tasks on their own!
4. Obstacle Course
- Pool noodles
- Craft papers
- BBQ sticks
- Stationeries (marker pens, tapes, colour pencils, scissors, etc)
1) Set up your obstacle course track using the different materials such as pool noodles, strings or hula-hoops (It can be indoor or outdoor).
2) Each material will represent different obstacles.
3) Write instructions on the craft papers such as hop like a frog, jump with one leg, crawl like a puppy, etc.
4) If you are setting up your obstacle course outdoor (involves ground), tape the BBQ sticks onto the instruction papers and stick them into the ground. If it is indoor, just place the instruction papers next to the obstacle course. Make sure to place the instructions where your child can see them clearly.
Now, the obstacle course is ready to let your child go wild! These activities are always fun and they can also help to build gross motor skills such as running, crawling and jumping. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the materials listed above - just use your creativity to make the activity as fun as possible.
5. Sensory Time-Out Zone
- An appliance cardboard box (or a corner, room, closet)
- Coloured Tapes
- Different textured fabrics (Silk, cotton, faux fur, ribbons, etc)
- Calming music
- Fidget items
1) Decorate an unused appliance cardboard box with coloured tapes. Alternatively, you can also decorate a corner, a room and closet if you don’t have any unused cardboard boxes.
2) Decorate the hula-hoop with all the different textured fabrics and hang it.
3) Put a CD/MP3 player with music that your child finds calming.
4) Put a variety of fidget items inside to keep your child’s hands busy.
The area should be in a place in which your child feels safe and can relax, not somewhere near the centre of the house. Encourage your child to work with you and give them options of materials to work. It is their safe zone after all.
As a parent, you always want the best for your children and you will do just about anything to keep them safe and happy by providing them with the right skills set and helping them prepare to face any challenges in life. Ultimately, support from parents and the community is what really matters. Continue to hone their skills so that they can play important roles in society and inspire others! We also hope these activity ideas will help you make your children’s life happier and make their daily tasks more exciting!