Many parents want game ideas for their highly verbal teenage and adult children on the Autism Spectrum. Here is a game that I created for a 16-year-old man that we worked with a few weeks ago! I hope that this game inspires you to come up with one of your own!

One of the goals that our Son-Rise Program Intensive team chose for him was, “Asks questions about another person within a conversation.” He told us that he did not know how to start conversations, or what to talk about with people. We believed that focusing on this goal was going to help him feel much more confident moving forward!

His desire to create friendships and to know how to keep a conversation going, inspired the Game for Socialization that I am about to share with you! Let’s start with the thought process behind how I created it. There are three main ingredients that I considered when designing my game:

  1. I picked one of his Goals that I wanted to focus on
  2. I picked at least one motivation of his that I could use
  3. I brought in props in order to bring our game to life

Our friend was very talented in martial arts and he already earned a black belt for his skills! Which means I had a motivation that I could use in our game! I decided that he was going to be my Martial Arts Teacher and that I was going to be his Friendship Coach!

I walked into the playroom wearing my white martial arts robe and I wrote, “Coaches Corner,” on a small yellow mat, which stayed in one corner of our playroom. I left one silly looking brown wig on top of our yellow mat! I then let him know that he was going to teach me a few martial arts moves and that I was going to help him practice asking friends more questions about themselves.

He was excited to begin and so was I!

As he taught me different martial arts moves, that I not so gracefully and playfully attempted, there was room for us to talk! After he finished teaching me one of those new moves I said, “I never learned martial arts in school, but I did play sports.” I paused for nearly 8 seconds and he remained quiet. This is a time where he could have asked me a question about myself. When he didn’t, I excitedly said, “Let’s go over to my Coaches Corner!”

We stood on my yellow mat, I put on my short brown wig and I acted like his new high-energy friendship coach! I clapped my hands and said, “Hey! You are doing great out there on the mat teaching me moves! You are really listening to me and you have been so amazing with celebrating my efforts! You’re doing awesome! Now, when I told you that I played sports in high school, you could have asked me a question about that! Which will help you keep conversations going with your friends! Let’s go back out on the mat and try again!”

I enthusiastically threw my brown wig back down on the floor, stood back in my martial arts position and then repeated the phrase that I said moments before. “I never learned martial arts in school, but I did play sports.” This time when I paused he said, “What sports did you play?” I excitedly answered him and then I celebrated him! We continued this game for over 1 hour and he was asking me so much about myself by the end of our time together!

This was such an amazing way for our new friend to practice getting to know me while also doing the martial arts that he loves so much! I also had the time of my life switching between being his eager martial arts student and his high energy, crazy looking, friendship coach!

Written by Brandi Davis, Senior Son-Rise Program Child Facilitator