Simple games to introduce to your child with Autism

If you are searching for the perfect game idea then look no further. This article will give you ideas for how to turn easy household objects in to interactive play back and forth with your child. There’s no need to spend lots of money on new toys or put valuable hours into creating something elaborate! Whether you are a parent or therapist, the chances are you will probably have the following things lying around your house somewhere or in your place of work.
Remember with any Game4Socialization you are presenting to your child, it’s important to first wait for a green light of interaction from your child. We have 4 green lights that we use at The Son-Rise Program:

1) Eye contact
2) Verbal communication/speech like sounds
3) Physical touch from your child
4)Your child looking over at what you are doing/looking at your items as you join them
We would not recommend you initiate any games when your child is showing you a red light (engaging in an exclusive and/or repetitious activity – stimming). This would be a time that you would be joining in with your child’s activity and doing exactly the same as them.

String Clothes!

  • Cut up different pieces of string
  • Tape them onto your clothes
  • Create a new outfit together (e.g. a hula skirt)
  • Once the outfit is made you can dance around the room in your new ensemble!

Variation: Make different outfits for the stuffed animals in the room- sing a song while you are making your outfits together, make hats, gloves, shoes, etc.
What to work on with your child:

  1. Physical participation: When your child is motivated to watch you make your own clothes, invite them to join you by helping you hold the string, cut the string or tape the string onto your outfit!
  2. Eye contact: Once you have string on your clothes and you have made part of your outfit then invite your child to look at you to watch you dance around the room in silly ways in your new clothes!

Pirate Straws!

  • Grab a straw from the playroom shelf
  • Pretend your straw is a pirate telescope
  • Search the room using your pirate telescope for some of your pirate booty
  • The things you could be looking for can be make believe such as “ohhhh look what I found under the table it’s a giant tickle!”

Variation: As you search the room for your pirate booty try singing a song or skipping around the room so you are dynamic for your child to watch! You can also pretend to drop your telescope and have your child help you pick it up!

What to work on with your child:

  1. Physical participation: Have your child help you search for the pirate booty (their motivation), hand them their own telescope and invite them to search the room with you. If you drop your telescope then ask them to help you pick it up or look for it!
  2. Simple gestures: Ask your child to point to where they think the next bit of treasure it hidden!

Magic Hat!

  • Grab a hat from the playroom shelf
  • Put different objects that your child is motivated for into the hat (e.g. balls, feathers, toy cars, etc.)
  • Wave your hand above the magic hat saying fun magic words such as “Abracadabra”.
  • Using anticipation as you pull each object slowly out of the hat (e.g. for example pull a ball out and then throw it across the room).

Variation: The variation here is adding new things to the hat- such as an animal themed hat where you fill the hat with different animals and then have them pop out making different animal sounds.Another variation could be putting different sensory items into the hat and then deliver sensory stimulation to your child each time you wave your hand above the hat.

What to work on with your child:

  1. Verbal participation: Ask your child to say the magic words with you, or have them tell you “out” to help you take out the next item from the hat.
  2. Eye contact to continue the game: try saying “look at me if you want to bring out the next magic toy”.
  3. Physical participation: Ask your child to help you by waving their hand above the hat, or even give them a magic wand (this could be simply be a marker) they can tap on the hat!

Acting Book!

  • When your child requests a book from off the shelf then open the page up and act out the scene of the book.
  • Continue to turn the pages of the book and act out different scenes.

Variation: You can even bring down puppets or figurines that you know your child is motivated for and act out the book with those different characters. Try using different voices and varying the volume and tone of your voice, you can also vary the way you use your body- get up and use your body in big ways and also use your body in small ways – see how your child reacts to each and then deliver more of the acting they are motivated for.

What to work on with your child:

  1. Physical participation: Invite your child to get up and act out the pages of the book with you. Give them one clear role in the game such as holding a prop and then shaking it, or jumping up and down. You can also invite them to turn the pages of the book for you as you entertain them.
  2. Verbal Participation: Have your child read the book aloud as you act it out for them. Invite them to continue reading to see more of the show.
  3. Eye contact: Ask your child to look at you for more of the book act!

Bubble Soup!

  • Make bubble soup by blowing bubbles into a bucket
  • Add in other ingredients such as pretend vegetables, then add in more bubbles and then more bubbles
  • Ladle it in to two bowls, one for you and one for your child, maybe even one for the teddy bear, and then pretend to eat it together, don’t forget to rub your belly to say, “Yum Yum”.

Variations: Invite many different friends (stuffed animals) to come and join you in testing out your soup!You can even make other items such as bubble bread, or bubble salad, etc.Have fun creating a whole meal with the help of bubbles!

What to work on with your child:

  1. Physical participation – Encourage your child to participate by putting the pretend vegetables into the bowl or by serving the soup into the bowls and then pretending to eat them.
  2. Verbal participation- Ask your child to verbally participate in the interaction by telling you which vegetables to put into the soup.

For more ideas on games to play with your child we recommend the DVD Games4Socialization

Article by: Becky Damgaard Son-Rise Program® Senior Teacher

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