Safe Activities for Children with Autism
Safety is a prominent concern for any parent or caregiver of every child regardless of being on the autism spectrum. There are wide variety of activities that can help children with autism learn life skills, work on socialization, and so much more, all while having fun! Children with autism enjoy a variety of activities based on their abilities, skills, and needs.
While playing with blocks, dolls, puppets or trains, children can create stories that match their interests, expand their imaginations and deal with real life. Pretend play also helps children with autism develop social skills and learn motor and life skills like going to the grocery store, dentist, or vet. All Lighthouse Autism Centers have play-based therapy rooms that immerse children in imaginary play spaces as well as naturalistic play spaces. These spaces offer more motivated learning opportunities. These naturalistic play-based spaces also help with children with autism learn how to tolerate overstimulating situations by bringing familiarity and even prompt speech and language opportunities.
Help your child with their creativity by playing restaurant with them. A lot of kids love to do this as it becomes fun imaginative play. Use play food or hand-drawn food, a notepad and pen. You can also make play money to enhance the experience. Kids will love eating at the restaurant and taking orders.
Sorting is an occupational therapy activity for children with autism. Collect various items such as play foods or toy blocks and have your child sort them into categories. Kids can also sort snacks by size, color, and similarities. Work on adding and subtracting with the snacks. This helps kids with colors, shapes, basic math, counting and more.
Imitation and Mirroring
Children with autism often struggle to make eye contact. A fun way to encourage the child to do so is by asking them to imitate you and/or others. Use a mirror or a game like patty cake as you help your child develop social and language skills. Games like Simon Says or Follow the Leader can also encourage imitation and mirroring skills for children with autism. These games can help improve social skills as well as motor skills in children with autism.
The rhythm, repetition and sounds of music can calm children with autism and teach them important language, communication, and rhythm skills. Share songs that rhyme, include physical actions, or incorporate daily activities like getting dressed or eating food, and provide kids with opportunities to shake maracas, bang pans and play other instruments as they make music.
Encourage children with autism to sing. This is not only very important to child development, but for children to express themselves and be creative. Learn new songs together as a family. Play some of your favorite songs from when you were growing up.
Lighthouse Autism Center celebrates Fun Fridays with a dance party! It’s important for children with autism to be creative in their movements. Dancing is very fun and expressive and supports motor skills and socialization!
Outdoors Activities and Playgrounds
Playground visits help children with autism stay active and calm their emotions and senses. Visit a park and allow children to slide, swing and run as they play alone or with peers. Lighthouse Autism Center offers private playgrounds at all our centers for active outdoor play.
According to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF), swimming provides invaluable therapy for children with autism, as well as providing improved speech, coordination, social skills, self-esteem, and cognitive processing. Enrolling your child with autism into swimming lessons can be highly beneficial! Many children with autism are drawn to water for its calming, sensory experience. However, water can present as a major safety concern. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children and adults on the autism spectrum. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90% of total U.S. reported deaths in children with an ASD under the age of 14. Furthermore, introducing your child to water in a safe way and seeking swim lessons has been proven to be highly beneficial for children with autism.
Sensory Water table
Use a water table or a small inflatable or plastic pool, a bucket, or a bathtub. Drop items into the water to have your child scoop out with a kitchen spoon or tongs. Add toys, pompoms, balls and anything else that would engage your child in this fun and sensory exploration.
Swinging is a very therapeutic activity for children with autism! There are so many ways to use a swing for therapy. All Lighthouse Autism Centers include a swing in our play spaces. They are versatile in that they can be used for calming and self-regulation, or just a fun, enjoyable activity! Many parents of children with autism purchase sensory swings for at home use.
Water Balloon Toss
This is a simple and fun way to play catch while getting wet and staying cool in the heat. Toss balloons into buckets and knock over objects you have set up. Smaller balloons are harder to pop, so the smaller you make some balloons for games, the longer the play can continue.
Blowing and catching bubbles is a favorite activity at Lighthouse Autism Center! This activity helps children with sensory and joint attention difficulties.
Drawing and Coloring
Drawing helps children with autism develop fine motor skills, work through emotions and experiment with colors, textures, and shapes. Provide crayons, paints, and pencils, and let them color a picture or create their own design on a blank canvas.
Story time is another favorite at our centers. Books are a great resource to work on various skills. Ask kids questions as you read. For example, if you were reading Cinderella you could ask, how would it feel to be the main character? What are some ways her stepsisters can show her kindness? If you were reading Aladdin, you could ask, if you had a magic carpet, where would you go? This helps children with autism learn empathy and helps them with perspective taking.
To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Visit: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/children-with-autism/