10 therapeutic activities for children with autism (2023)

10 therapeutic activities for children with autism (1)

Children enjoy being immersed in playful experiences. Completing the tasks of building building blocks, solving a puzzle and drawing pictures will develop skills that the child will use throughout his life.

Occupational therapists are fortunate to be a crucial part of the treatment team for children with special needs. Therapists who work with children are experts at looking at different games, activities, and toys to determine what skills the child needs to complete them. It really is a fun job!

Remember that children are programmed to use their senses to develop skills during play.

A versatile toy that appeals to more than one sense is automatically more fun. Multisensory means that more pathways for brain development are opened and used.

In the following article, we cover 10 of our favorite activities for children with autism that are great for all ages.

10 therapeutic activities for children with autism

1) Half pasta!

One of the cheapest and most versatile pieces of equipment that I recommend is a basic foam pool float. They can be used in many ways. Stock up at your local thrift store during the spring and summer for year-round fun. Here are some ways to use them:

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  • Cut them into two-inch pieces to stack and build like blocks.
  • Label the pool noodle pieces with each letter of the alphabet and stack the pool noodle pieces on top of each other in alphabetical order.
  • Create boats with pool noodles, straws, and triangles
  • Use straws, pipe cleaners and googly eyes to create bugs
  • Tie two-inch pieces of pool noodle together with twine or twine.
  • Cut them in half vertically and make pathways for water features.
  • Make obstacle courses with pool noodles cut in half to make balance beams
  • Make lightsabers out of pool noodles by cutting them into quarters and wrapping duct tape around the top of each quarter to make a handle.
  • Check out our Harkla Pinterest board for great ideas

2) Create sensory boxes filled with fun items

It is very easy to get stuck with only rice or grains. To avoid a big mess, throw it in a shower curtain.

  • Aquarium gravel is available in great colors.
  • Ostergras
  • straws cut into pieces... Let children cut the straws to develop fine motor skills
  • plumage
  • mondteig
  • pieces of tissue paper
  • Salida
  • buttons and beads
  • earth and sand

take a look at ourfull list of sensory toyschoice!

3) Create a safe sensory time-out area

The area should be in a place where your child feels safe and can relax, so avoid setting it up in the middle of the family home. Encourage your child to work with you and give him a selection of materials and what belongs to the sensory area.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can create a whole for your child.sensory space!

  • Use a large box from the machine and tape the edges with colored tape to prevent paper cuts.
  • Hang a hula hoop decorated with ribbons so that they fall down. This is an awesome look that is reminiscent of a colorful waterfall that is also great for touch gaming!
  • Even a closet or a corner can work... what matters is what's inside.
  • add ourHarkla Weighted Blanket and Lap Pillow.
  • Add a CD player or music that your child finds comforting.
  • Make sure your child hasrestless objectskeeping your hands busy.

4) Sensory vibrations for autism.

Swinging is a very therapeutic activity for children with autism! There are so many different ways to use a therapy swing.

They are versatile in that they can be used for calming and self-regulation or just as a fun and enjoyable activity!

Below, we've covered 10 of our favorite activities for our best-selling sensory swing, theHarkla Sensory Compression Swing:

5) Visual timelines

10 therapeutic activities for children with autism (4)

Visual schedules have been vital both in my clinic and in my own home. I rely on a calendar and schedule to keep track. It has been proven that many children with autism are visual learners. This means that an illustrated plan that outlines the steps of a task is helpful.

A schedule for daily tasks, such as bathing, should also be posted so children know exactly what to expect and what is coming up. This can be incorporated into game activities. So take pictures of a block tower and number them.

Ask your child to put them in order by saying, "Which comes first?" etc. One of the most useful tools a parent can use is a camera. Take step-by-step photos of each activity, print and laminate.

6) Run an obstacle course

Use what you can find. The glued lines are ideal for "fake" balance beams. Hula hoops, bean bag toss, and jump ropes may be included. Running like animals is always fun and develops great gross motor skills.

  • jump like a frog
  • gallop like a horse
  • slither like a snake
  • crawl like a puppy
  • sway like a worm
  • jump like a kangaroo
  • run like a crab
  • dance like a unicorn

Check out our video on how to create an obstacle course in 5 easy steps!

7) Sensory and Calming Bottles

10 therapeutic activities for children with autism (5)Adding smaller items that your child prefers makes bottles fun and visually appealing. For example, add hair gel with a little bit of water and glitter so that the glitter slowly falls through the bottle. It's fun to add paper clips so kids can use a magnet to attract the clips and move them around in the jar.

Find thousands of sensory bottle ideas on Pinterest.

These are all the rage right now. Because? They can be customized for each child and are designed for many purposes. They can be made with water, hair gel, water drops, and other fillers.

8)Playground and outdoor activities

10 therapeutic activities for children with autism (6)Ask him why he doesn't prefer the equipment or just runs in circles on the playground instead of using the equipment as expected. Offer fun alternatives, such as alphabet scavenger hunts and finding items that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

These types of activities help children use so many senses together. Encourage children to play outdoors and barefoot whenever possible. If your child doesn't like the games, he may tell you that he needs additional therapy to overcome anxiety or motor weakness.

9) Involve your child in daily decisions

Remember that children can participate and get parental approval. Even the most mundane tasks can be fun when done together. Establish a weekly menu, for example. Browse cookbooks and the pantry to decide what items to add to the grocery list. Ask your child what foods she prefers and have her identify the items she needs and write them on the list. Then go shopping together and work to become familiar with the store. Lastly, payment helps with money management and budgeting. Remember, the ultimate goal is for your child to function independently and it's never too late to start.

10) Add “brain breaks” or YOGA and movement activities

These can be integrated throughout your child's day. It's important to make sure your child takes a break from school and mentally prepares for tough homework and tests.

Deep breathing and calming strategies should be practiced when things are calm and not stressful so that they are easily accessible when a child is stressed.

You can find many breathing exercises and brain teasers on the internet and here atPocket Occupational Therapists Website.

Don't miss our YouTube video on the top 5 multi-sensory activities and why we love them!


Thanks for reading our favorite therapeutic activities for children with autism! We hope you can begin to incorporate some of these into your child's life.

keep following theHarkla-Blogfor more great tips and helpful ideas to help people with special needs. We strive to offer the latest topics and activities for your family.

What are your favorite activities at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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