Whether you are a parent, teacher or therapist looking for outdoor activities for an autistic child, you will love this list of outdoor autism activities. If you are considering using outdoor activities as sensory breaks, I would also recommend creating sensory break cards for each activity and using these activities with a visual schedule.
Outdoor Activities for an Autistic Child
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Playing outside has many benefits for children with autism including engaging your child in exercise, increasing motivation, increasing interaction and teaching new skills.
Sensory bins are one of my favorite tools for teaching kids with autism. Use them inside or bring them outside to use them as an outdoor activity.
These are some of my favorite sensory bin fillers :
- Dried beans, chickpeas, pasta, rice, etc.
- Cotton balls
- Shredded paper
- Water and water toys
Sidewalk chalk is easy to bring outdoors. You can have your child draw freely, follow instructions to draw specific items (like sun, dog, flower, etc.), work on writing or even math problems. I really like this easy grip sidewalk chalk. jkfhg
Similarly to the sensory boxes above, play dough is a tool that we typically use inside that can also be used outside. Bring a little tray, play dough and play dough tools with you outside to create a fun play dough activity while also enjoying time in the garden or playground. This homemade sensory dough is the best!
Bubbles are a fantastic reinforcer for kids on the autism spectrum. They seem to have almost universal appeal to little ones (on and off the spectrum). I love these ice cream bubbles!
Gardening is a great activity for having fun, taking a little sensory break outdoors and giving your child or students
Toss a spray bottle in your bag before you go out.
Your child or students could benefit from using two different types of spray bottles :
- Plant spray bottle : I love these cute geometric spray bottles for building fine motor strength while also having fun outside. You could have your little one water some plants with this spray bottle as well.
- Finger spray bottle : This spray bottle is really useful as well. Like with the plant spray bottle you can use it to create a fun and stimulating outdoor activity while also building your child’s fine motor strength. Since this little finger spray bottle is a lot more precise, have your little learner spray at something specific, like onto a rock or a dot that you create on the ground with sidewalk chalk.
A classic and a goodie! A frisbee is a great way to build coordination and interaction skills. You can also work on following instructions with a frisbee. I love this personalized one!
I love making sensory bottles with my little learners. You can bring a sensory bottle that you’ve made with you outside, or even bring the whole activity outside and make the sensory bottle together outdoors.
Velcro ball toss
Similar to a frisbee, a velcro ball toss will build coordination and interaction skills while providing a fun outdoor activity for your little one.
I love this sand table. It is collapsable for easy storage and it can be used with sand, water or other sensory materials.
Outdoor play will always be better if a slide is involved!
Use a trampoline outside to encourage your little one to exercise and burn some energy.
An obstacle course is also a great way to exercise, burn energy and have fun outside. This also a great activity that encourages social interaction if you add a team component to the obstacle course.
Hide ‘n’ Seek
Set up a game of hide ‘n’ seek to work on following instructions, waiting your turn, all while building gross motor skills outside.
Create a scavenger hunt for your child and have him or her find a series of items outside. There is a printable nature scavenger hunt in my autism workbooks bundle.
Riding a bike
Definitely include a bike in your child or students’ outdoor play.
Hopscotch is a such a fun outdoor activity. Lead your little learner in a fun game of hopscotch to spend time outside and build new skills.
Check out these yoga for kids videos to get started incorporating yoga into your program.
Pool noodles are such a versatile therapy tool and a great toy to include when you head outside to play with your child or students with autism.
Tips for outdoor activities
- Use a visual schedule to prepare your child or students for the activities you plan to do outside. You can use a visual schedule leading up to going outside and include “outdoor activities” on the visual schedule, in addition to having a visual schedule specifically showing the activities you will do outside together.
2. Use social stories to explain how to do each activity with your child, step by step.
3. Make sensory cards for your outdoor activities to get the most out of these activities and include them as part of your little one’s sensory break options.
More Autism Learning Resources
- The Successful Interaction with a Child with Autism Course – learn to better understand your autistic child or students with this complete course.
- Autism Activities Workbook Bundle – build communication skills, fine motor skills, sensory play skills and daily living skills, while helping your child or students to successfully manage any difficult behaviors, with these fun, educational, printable activities.
- Sensory Communication Workbook – Build communication skills with simple sensory activities.
- How to Make a Communication Binder Guide & Workbook – Learn how to create a Communication Binder for your child or student with autism using real photos. Follow my expert guide to learn how to use it to increase communication skills.
- Zoo Animals Play Dough Mats Bundle – use these printable play dough mat to work on the names of the animals, build language skills, and increase fine motor strength and precision in a fun, sensory way!
Outdoor Activities for an Autistic Child
I hope you will enjoy these outdoor activity ideas for children with autism. Use your time outside to help your little learner get exercise, burn energy, remain calm and focused, get some fresh air, have fun and learn new skills.
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