Recreational Activities for Children with Autism

All children love to play, and children with Autism are no exception. Play is an excellent way of teaching coordination, movement, problem-solving, and creativity, while allowing your child to have fun along the way. With the right play activities, coupled with the best Autism treatment in Bangalore, your child can learn important social and communication skills. These skills in turn, help them adjust better at school and other interactive environments. Here’s a quick guide to simple and fun play activities for your child with Autism. 

Understanding Autism
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism may be uncomfortable in social situations and have trouble interacting with their peers at school or on the playground. Getting your child the right Autism treatment in Bangalore early on, will help them pick up necessary social skills and live a more fulfilling life.

The best play activities for your child with Autism
Just like neurotypical children, your child with Autism learns new skills and abilities through play. Different types of play activities help your child explore their environment, make connections, copy things, learn how to share, use their imagination, and so on. Playtime is also a valuable opportunity for the caregiver to model good behavior and build a stronger bond with the child.

When selecting play activities for your child, it is important to keep watching them to see what they are interested in, and what they tire of. There are three main types of play that can help your child learn while having fun. Here’s a quick guide to incorporating each of these types into your child’s day.

Sensory play
This type of play touches upon the child’s senses and helps soothe them or excite them, in a healthy way. Most children with Autism are prone to sensory overload, and sensory play can keep them calm during stressful situations. Some examples include:

  • Making a sensory collage as a way of introducing your child to different textures.
  • Teaching them to identify different smells by hiding different objects (coffee beans, soap, rose petals) in a covered jar, and having your child sniff at them.
  • Creating a sensory bottle by adding water, glitter, and colored marbles to a bottle.
  • Having a sensory bin filled with different textures like rice, pebbles, buttons, beads, sand, feathers, pasta shapes, and so on.

Structured play
This type of play involves the adult providing some sort of structure or direction to get playtime going. It is important for teaching children skills like sharing or taking turns, as it involves clear guidelines as opposed to free play. It also makes playtime less stressful for your child with Autism, by introducing predictability. Some examples include:

  • Piecing a jigsaw puzzle together
  • Taking turns with another child to build something with building blocks
  • Matching pictures with each other or matching pictures to toys
  • Coloring an outline with crayons, based on a picture guide

The key here is to be involved in playtime at first, and then to gradually withdraw as the child learns to do the activity on their own. 

Outdoor play
Outdoor play can take place in your garden, park, jungle gym, or schoolyard. This type of play enhances your child’s gross motor skills and helps them adjust to new textures, smells, and sounds. Examples of outdoor play include:

  • Barefoot races involving running or jumping
  • Swinging on the swings
  • Playing on a seesaw with another child
  • Scavenger hunts where the child has to find objects in a certain color or shape
  • Teaching them about textures by having them identify and pick up grass, leaves, pebbles, flowers, and so on.

Here are some other tips to remember for effective play:

  • Explain play activities in a language that your child with Autism understands. If your child is a visual learner for instance, use pictures to explain the different steps of a game.
  • Plan play activities that fall within the child’s interest. For instance, if your child likes Winnie the Pooh, use toys, visual cues, and other activities with a Winnie the Pooh theme.
  • Use play to help your child adjust to new environments. So if your child likes to play with modeling clay, encourage them to play with modeling clay at a classmate’s house.
  • Always praise your child for responding well to play activities or trying out something new.

Play is an invaluable component of teaching your child with Autism important life skills while letting them explore and have fun. By incorporating play into their daily schedule and gently guiding them towards new things, your child will be happier and more effective, at home and elsewhere.