activities for kids with autism

26 Fun and Therapeutic Activities for Kids with Autism!

Finding the right activities for kids with autism is all about mixing fun and therapeutic functions! Here, I’ve discovered 26 activities suitable for their unique needs. These can be the gateway to development and joy. From sensory-based experiences to social games that encourage communication, each activity has the potential to help them connect with the world! So, check these out!

Sensory Stimulation and Calming Activities

As a parent, you’d know that calming down a kid with autism is no easy task. Here are some activities that you can do to create a relaxing situation

1. Sensory Bin

Sensory Bin
Source: Instagram (@happytoddlerplaytime)

In my experience working with children who have autism, sensory bins are an incredibly versatile tool. These bins allow kids to dig in different textures and materials that can have calming effects.

How to:

Fill a container with various items such as rice, beans, water beads, or sand, and then mix in some small colorful toys for an element of fun!

2. Create a Sensory Ocean

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@sensoryplayboxmalaysia)

I find that crafting a Sensory Ocean can benefit children with autism! It incorporates various soothing sensory experiences.

How to:

Fill a large storage container with a mix of sand, water, and a drop of blue food coloring to mimic the sea. Then, sprinkle in some glitter. Adding shells makes the exploration exciting. For immersive auditory stimulation, play the sounds of waves! 

3. Calm Down Bottles

Calm Down Bottles
Calm Down Bottles

Calm Down Bottle is a magical tool to soothe and grab the attention of your special kid!

How to:

Fill a bottle with glitter, beads, and colorful small toys that slowly drift to the bottom when your little one shakes it. This bottle is a hit for providing a focus point during overwhelming moments! It also doubles as a fun craft! 

4. Bubble Blowing

activities for kids with autism
Bubble Blowing

When I think of thrilling activities for kids with autism, bubble-blowing immediately comes to mind. It’s a simple, joyful activity that can do wonders for language development and sensory stimulation!

How to:

Blowing bubbles can help a child manage their breath control, which is a key oral motor skill. Encourages kids to blow gently, training them to perform the task with care. 

5. Do Some Water Play

Do Some Water Play
Source: Instagram (@autsome_brushes)

Engaging kids with autism in water activities is therapeutic! It is simple yet often serves as an excellent sensory experience.

How to:

For an introduction to water play, try setting up tubs with different textures, like soapy water in one and lukewarm water in another. Invite your child to transfer objects between them, providing a sense of routine and order!

6. Make your own Cornflour Slime

activities for kids with autism
Make your own Cornflour Slime

Cornflour slime is a craft that hits all the right notes for a fun sensory activity.

How to:

You’ll need 1.5 to 2 parts of cornflour to 1 part of water. Mix them until it gets gooey. Add food coloring for visual stimulation or some glitter. It encourages kids with autism to explore sensory input and strengthen their hand muscles!

Cognitive and Educational Development

Children with autism often have difficulty with cognitive and educational development. Here’s how you train your special kid’s skills with fun activities!

7. Object Sorting

Object Sorting
Object Sorting

Object sorting can be an engaging way for kids with autism to develop their cognitive skills. It helps them learn to recognize similarities and differences.

How to:

I suggest sorting colorful toys to introduce the concept of colors. Also, try the shape sorter puzzle. Sorting balls of different sizes is another good activity to illustrate the concept of big and small. 

8. Print and Play Emotion Cards

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@includ.ed)

I noticed that Print-and-Play Emotion cards can be effective in helping children with autism express their feelings!

How to:

Customize the cards to the needs of your kid. For instance, the Autism Teaching Strategies offers a diverse set of emotion card games that you can use. Let your child choose the cards to illustrate what they are feeling at the moment.

9. Autism Worksheets

Autism Worksheets
Source: Instagram (@curriculumforautism)

Worksheets can be incredibly useful tools for teaching children with autism. They come in various themes and can teach skills like vocabulary, letter recognition, and fine motor abilities. I’ve seen how even a simple, colorful worksheet can hold a child’s attention and make learning more interactive. It is especially helpful for kiddos who might need a bit of extra engagement. 

10. The Name Game

activities for kids with autism
The Name Game

I’ve found The Name Game to be a fantastic way to engage kids with autism. You help them practice introducing themselves in a playful environment.

How to:

Start by sitting them in a circle. Demonstrate the game by pointing to myself and stating my name. Then, pass the turn around the circle. Use visual aids to help with communication and social interaction!

11. Paper-crafted Fortune-tellers

Paper-crafted Fortune-tellers
Paper-crafted Fortune-tellers

In my experience, paper-crafted fortune-tellers are also fantastic social skills games for kids with autism. It encourages conversation in a playful manner.

How to:

I recommend using simple folding techniques. Watch as their eyes light up when they unfold the paper to reveal messages or tasks hidden inside! Customize the paper with different colors and textures, to grab the kids’s attention!

Creative and Fine Motor Skills

Kids with autism often struggle with their fine motor skills. Moving delicately can be challenging. Here’s how you can help them improve while simultaneously developing their creativity!

12. Playing with Musical Instruments

activities for kids with autism
Playing with Musical Instruments

Engaging children with autism in musical activities can be both therapeutic and enjoyable! For example, holding and playing a recorder can aid in developing breath control. Moreover, exploring instruments such as a set of handbells allows for sensory discovery and the sound is soothing. Let the kids express themselves without worries about the ‘right’ way to play!

13. Play Dough

Play Dough
Source: Instagram (@autismlittlelearners)

When I introduce Play-Doh to my special kid, it’s like unlocking a whole new world! It’s more than just a ball of dough: it’s a multi-sensory experience that stimulates the sense of touch, smell, and even sight with its vibrant colors. Encourage them to squish, roll, and shape the dough! It is a fun way to strengthen fine motor skills!

14. Role Play

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@autismspeaks)

Role play is a fantastic tool for fostering social skills in kids with autism. They get to experiment with social cues. I’ve found it particularly effective to use role play with scenarios tailored to each child’s needs.

How to:

Allow them to practice making introductions, asking for help, or sharing toys. I always encourage parents to be creative with the scenarios!

15. Build a Lego Set

Build a Lego Set
Source: Instagram (@nationalautism)

Building a Lego set is my favorite activity when I play with autistic kids. It’s all about letting them express their creativity through the colorful Lego bricks! I encourage collaboration but it’s okay to build alone, too. Putting together the bricks can improve their finger’s fine motor. Plus, the repetitive nature of placing Lego bricks can be calming!

Physical Activity and Coordination

The following activities will help you stimulate kids with autism to move their bodies! They can also improve their body coordination and focus!

16. Indoor Obstacle Courses

activities for kids with autism
Indoor Obstacle Courses

To create an indoor obstacle course suitable for kids with autism, incorporate elements that can be fun and therapeutic. For instance, I may include a jumping task through a hula hoop.

How to:

To keep it interesting, switch between tasks that require different movements! Let them crawl under a string, walk along a line for balance, or weave through cones!

17. Ball Pit

Ball Pit
Ball Pit

When I set up a ball pit for my special needs kid, it’s like bringing a carnival into our home. Imagine a flood of colors created by hundreds of plastic balls! Each ball is a touchpoint for sensory exploration. Let them dive in, burrow, toss, and roll, as these activities are crucial for sensory integration. It’s therapy disguised as fun!

18. Swimming

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@autism_swim)

Swimming is an excellent activity for children with autism as it incorporates fun, exercise, and sensory integration! The weightlessness of water offers a unique sensory experience. The physical benefits include enhanced coordination and fitness. I encourage incorporating various water games to keep the activities engaging. Games like Pool Noodle Races or Water Balloon Squirt can be both joyous and skill-enhancing. 

19. Dancing

Source: Instagram (@myautism)

As someone who appreciates the power of movement, I always recommend dancing as an enriching activity for kids with autism. Dancing is self-expression! For kids on the spectrum, it is an avenue to communicate emotions nonverbally. The dance sequences provide a comforting sense of order. I think of dance as a multisensory experience that offers stimulation through music and movement!

Social Skills and Interactive Play

Being on the spectrum, your kids may have trouble socializing. Through these interactive plays, you can help them improve their social skills!

20. Playing a Board Game Together

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@laffarsmith)

When choosing a board game for a child with autism, prioritize options that promote engagement! In my experience, it’s important to select games that encourage turn-taking and cooperation. Games like Chinese Checkers and Battleship, for example, are excellent tools for bonding. This helps enhance communication skills and can be incredibly rewarding. The key is to focus on simplicity!

21. Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt

I often include a Scavenger Hunt when planning activities for kids with autism. It can be a unique way to engage their senses.

How to:

Create a memory box packed with familiar textures for them to find. Then prinkle clues around the play area. Make the clues visually stimulating, yet simple to avoid any confusion or frustration! It’ll be rewarding!

22. Play Hide and Seek

activities for kids with autism
Play Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek can be a beneficial game for autistic kids as it stimulates their senses. They’ll have fun looking for hiding friends or finding the best spot to hide themselves. Running and hiding involves a set of movements that are fantastic for their physical development. Tailor it to the child’s level, making it easier or more challenging as needed.

23. Puzzle Solving

activities for kids with autism
Puzzle Solving

When I work with kids who have autism, I always include puzzle-solving in the schedule! It’s an interactive play to bolster their problem-solving and spatial awareness!

How to:

I recommend starting with puzzles that have clearly defined images and a few pieces. Then, progress to more complex ones as confidence grows. When I introduce puzzles to small groups, it fosters communication skills!

24. Reading

activities for kids with autism
Source: Instagram (@nicolegottesmann)

For kids who are on the spectrum, I often focus on making reading an interactive experience.

How to:

I often start by sitting together and reading aloud, guiding my finger along the words. It encourages tracking and recognition. Asking the child to identify or repeat familiar words helps reinforce their vocabulary! The key is consistent engagement that sparks joy and curiosity!

25. Yoga

activities for kids with autism

Kids with autism may experience remarkable benefits from practicing yoga! It improves strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga also offers a chance for those who are on the spectrum to enhance their social-communication skills. Through various poses and breathing techniques, yoga helps these amazing little ones focus and find a sense of calm. Also, yoga inherently offers a non-competitive, inclusive environment!

26. Meditation

activities for kids with autism

Meditation can be quite beneficial for kids with autism. It helps them focus and find inner calm. Simple activities like sound meditations are suitable because it’s more interactive. These involve paying attention to a single sound, like a chime, which encourages mindfulness.

How to:

Using clear, direct language is essential, as it aligns with their preference for concrete communication.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to preparing activities for kids with autism, creativity, and flexibility are your best allies. Remember, each child is wonderfully unique, and tapping into their interests can spur their growth. It’s so rewarding to see the brightest smiles when a simple therapy session turns into a comforting routine. Celebrate every tiny victory!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What do autistic children enjoy?

Autistic children enjoy activities that align with their interests, which can vary widely. They may enjoy sensory experiences with specific subjects like trains or animals, for example.

How do you entertain a child with autism?

Entertaining a child with autism involves understanding their preferences, providing structured routines, and sensory-friendly activities, and incorporating visual aids or technology.

How do I motivate my autistic child?

Motivating an autistic child can be achieved by using positive reinforcement, acknowledging their achievements, and offering rewards.

What do autistic children need most?

What autistic children need most is understanding, acceptance, and support from their families, educators, and communities. They may also need therapies, resources, and inclusive environments.

How can I improve my autistic child’s behavior?

You can implement consistent routines and use clear communication. Utilize visual supports and teach social skills through modeling and practice. We also advise that you seek guidance from professionals such as behavior therapists or psychologists.