This collection of Autism play activities will help you engage your child, while building communication, fine motor, gross motor, independent living and social play skills. Take a look at these free autism resources next.
Why is play important for children with autism?
Play is crucial for children with autism because it is the vessel for increasing learning, understanding and communication.
In my coaching programs, families often share that playing with their children with autism is easier said than done. Why is playing with a child with autism so complicated?
- Capturing an autistic child’s attention to begin a play activity can be a challenge.
- Children with autism can easily become stuck in patterns of repetitive play and need to be prompted by you (the parent or teacher) to move to the next step in the play activity.
- Often play with a child with autism is less focused on language and more focused on body movement.
What is social play?
Social play is an activity that includes at least 2 children. It can involve pretend play and imagination. Play is structured and there is a goal in mind. Social play helps to build social skills as children learn to take turns, express emotions, cooperate and share.
What is independent play?
Independent play is playing on your own. For children with autism, the struggle is not typically getting them to spend time on their own. They are often happy to be on the edge of activities by themselves. However, they typically default to purely sensory activities and/or repetitive movements. It is essential for children with autism to learn to engage in play activities that they can do on their own.
Both social and independent play are crucial for learners on the autism spectrum.
I have gathered 12 of my favorite autism play activities that I use regularly at my learning center to engage my students with autism. You can use them in your home or autism classroom program too!
12 Autism play activities to engage your child today
- Choose one of these sensory box ideas and make a sensory box with your little one.
- Make some fun learning tools for your pretend play kitchen with these DIY pretend play food activities.
- Make a Spring chicks sensory box.
- If your child has trouble sitting still and staying concentrated, make a game out of creating DIY fidgets.
- Feed the fish in your child’s autism aquarium.
- Use my Sensory Communication Workbook to engage your child in sensory play that will also build communication skills in an organized way.
- Print out and laminate this fish bowl play dough mat and have some fun with play dough with your child!
- Play with these zoo animal play dough mats.
- Play the Fill the Fridge! game.
- Do some train sponge painting.
- Engage your child in these fun food stamping activities.
- Go on a fun autism-friendly field trip!
Helpful tools for autism play activities
Click here to get my free printable autism toy checklist to make sure you have all the toys and tools you need to engage your child with autism.
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