8 puzzles that every autism playroom should have! Puzzles are a valuable learning tool for autistic learners whether you are wanting to teach communication, receptive language, pointing, fine motor, imitation, taking turns, letters, numbers, names, interaction skills and more. Use puzzles in your home or classroom to teach your child or students in a fun and interactive way.
Make sure that you have these puzzles in your autism playroom
At my learning center in Paris, I use puzzles in my sessions and in the classroom on a regular basis to teach a wide variety of skills. If you have built an autism playroom for your child, then you will need to make sure that you have a selection of puzzles to teach your child too. This also goes for an autism classroom.
People with autism often enjoy doing puzzles which makes them a great teaching tool for parents and educators wanting to help an autistic individual build new skills.
Use puzzles with your child with autism to
- Build fine motor skills.
- Build communication skills.
- Build vocabulary.
- Teach animal sounds.
- Teach tranpsortation sounds.
- Ask “what” questions. (“What is this?” “cow!”, “sheep”, “train”, etc.).
- Explore new textures and provide sensory input.
- Teach numbers.
- Teach colors.
- Teach letter recognition.
- Teach beginning reading skills.
- Teach beginning writing skills.
- Teach your child or student to say his or her name.
- Teach taking turns.
How to use puzzles as autism toys
(We have included affiliate links for your convenience. You can read our disclosures here.)
I use this farm animals puzzles on the regular at my learning center for naming the farm animals, providing sensory input, working on animal sounds and building fine motor skills.
This puzzle makes realistic transportation sounds which makes it a lot of fun and naturally reinforcing to play with. I use it to teach sounds and new vocabulary and to build fine motor skills with children with autism.
Every autism playroom needs a wooden alphabet puzzle. An alphabet puzzle is essential for working on letter recognition and beginning spelling and reading skills.
Every autism playroom also needs a wooden numbers puzzle. You can use it to teach numbers and colors.
I love Melissa & Doug products – in case you can’t tell! Their puzzles are well made and last a long time. I absolutely love this musical puzzle. The sounds are realistic and naturally reinforcing for kids with autism. You can build new vocabulary skills and even discuss different types of music and instruments if your child is speaking.
The next step after working with one piece puzzles is to begin building figures using two or more pieces. If your child is just progressing to the next level now, this is a great puzzle to use. Just two to five pieces to build several different animals!
Puzzles are fantastic toys for preschoolers with autism, as well as individuals with autism of all ages that are building communication, receptive language, pointing, fine motor, imitation or interaction skills, or all of these skills combined.
Tips to Use Puzzles with Autistic Learners
- Start simply. You want to avoid frustrating your child or students when you first start using puzzles as a teaching tool. Presenting a puzzle that is too difficult will become a barrier to learning. It’s best to start simply and then go from there, increasing difficulty as your child progresses.
- Use visuals. Autistic children often respond well to visual guidance and visual prompts. If you are using a puzzle that requires several steps to complete, why not take a photo of each step so that you can break down the steps visually for your child or student?
- Take your time. Autistic learners may need more time to complete a puzzle. They may also complete the puzzle way faster than you! (It depends on the child.) If your child or student with autism needs more time to complete the puzzle, go at their pace. There is no need to rush things and cause frustration, and potentially difficult behaviors, such as refusing to do the activity or even hitting or other escape behaviors.
- Use a timer. If your little learner gets really good at doing puzzles, why not set a timer and turn completing the puzzle as quickly as possible into a fun game?!
- Use clear instructions. It is crucial to make it clear what is expected of your child or student when doing the puzzle. Does he or she need to put one piece in, two pieces in, complete the whole puzzle, take turns to complete the puzzle? Make it clear what your expectations are for the activity by using clear instructions at the beginning of the activity.
Want to learn more about using puzzles to teach your child with autism? Take a look at these posts about autism teaching tools!
- Teaching Children with Autism Using Puzzles
- Autism Chew Toys
- Best Sensory Toys for Kids with Autism
- Fidgets for Autistic Students
- Printable Social Stories
- Best Gifts for Autistic Child
More Autism 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!
I love these 8 puzzles that every autism playroom should have!
Do you have another type of puzzle to add to the list?
First published July 10, 2017. Last updated April 12, 2021 with more information, additional learning tips, and better readability.
Learn to create a Progress Nook for your child at home in 7 days
Receive 7 emails - 1 email each day - for FREE that will teach you exactly what to do, then receive emails once per week with fun learning activities for your child