Free game ideas for autistic children
Having an autistic child or sibling does not mean the end of fun for the entire family. Parents, siblings and care-givers can still build enriching and meaningful activities into the life of their special needs child to help him to grow and have fun as children. There is no need to break your piggy bank in order to come up with game ideas to entertain, teach and nurture your special child. Depending on the existing capability of the child, the following are some free game ideas that parents and care-givers can use.
Many autistic children love specific and repetitive activities such as watching trains go by. They like the repetition and even the monotony of these activities. Teach your autistic child to play the game of domino. He can use most items that are commonly found in the house such as books, Lego blocks and even packs of cards.
One fun and free game idea parents can try is to incorporate completing household chores as a game. For example, play the game of sorting clothes with your child. Get him to identify his own clothing from the rest of his siblings. When he is able to pick out his own clothes, praise the child rightly for getting his clothes right. Relevant praises build up self-esteem and encourage the autistic child. When he can sort out his own clothes, extend the activity by getting your child to pack them into the right corners of the wardrobe. As a game, pair him up with his normal sibling and let them compete to see who can get it right. The idea is to see who can get most of the sorting correct.
Sing along with the child. You or another autistic child could sing one verse of a familiar song and someone else could complete the next verse. Give it a competitive edge to see who can get more verses correct. This game idea is free! An alternative is to make funny animal sounds. Young children enjoy making animal sounds. The highly functional autistic child is able to process this sort of sensory stimulation and he probably enjoys it too.
Turn making animal movements into another free game. Mimic the crawl of a crocodile, the galloping of a deer or horse, the slither of a snake, the crawl of a crab or the waddle of a duck. You could do this on a rainy day too. Not only does it entertain and educate the autistic child, you also get to bond with him and kill time when it is too hot, cold or wet to go outdoors.
If the autistic child can talk or count, give him a stack of coins. As a game idea, what you could do is to get him to identify the coins into their various denominations. Using a human stick figure, play ‘hangman’ too when he makes mistakes. Pretend that you want to go shopping for his favorite toy. Ask him if there is sufficient money with the number of coins he has. Stack the coins as high as he can and see when it topples. Count the money again.
Switch on the computer. Show your child pictures of animals and get him to identify them and even the spelling too. You do not need to spend money to buy expensive flashcards for this purpose. Use the ubiquitous computer to help you. The computer may not be free but the resources found in the internet can be free.
As an extension, help your autistic child to identify, spell or verbalise the names of different shapes or common household items. If the above is too troublesome to prepare, grab a family photo album and ask him to identify the people in the photographs. You could start by pointing to your spouse and ask, “Elijah, who is this?” If your child gets the name of the family member correct, give him a bear hug!
Another free game idea you could engage with your autistic child is to involve him in simple gardening activities. This is something you can do even if all you have is only one pot. Give him a spade or anything to dig with (of course it should be safe). Tell him it is a spade and show him how to dig up the soil. Let him have fun digging up the soil. Extend the activity by telling him he is going to have to observe what happens after he drops some seeds into the soil. Make your child water the pot daily and talk about the development of the seeds he has sown. Give him plenty of opportunity to verbalise his thoughts. To treat it as a game, he could be allowed to use your precious iPhone and snap pictures of the growing plants to show his teacher in school.
Outdoors, if your child enjoys watching the trains approaching the platform, play spotting the train with him. See who gets to spot the headlights of the train first. You can even delegate another sibling or adult to play this game. Again, this is a free game!
Do not be shy to accept hand-me-downs. If your relatives are willing to give away their old jigsaw puzzles, gladly accept them. Your child could learn to entertain himself with these free jigsaw puzzles. One word of advice-remember to match the ability of the child to the complexity of the jigsaw puzzle. If there are too many pieces, this activity will only frustrate him. However, this is a good opportunity to train him in the virtue of patience. Proudly display his masterpieces once it is completed.
Count the number of streetlights as you travel in the car. At the end of the trip, ask your child to tell him how many streetlights he has seen. This activity will keep him occupied and stop him from fretting during long journeys.
Play hopscotch with your autistic child. Swim with him when he goes for swimming lessons. Give him an old plastic cup and ask him to scoop out a specific number of cups of water from the pool. Throw floating duckies or inflatables into the pool and ask him to pick up as many as he can. Get his siblings to join in the fun.
Give your child a balloon and ask him to fill it up with water. Throw the water-bomb into the water and ask him to play catch. This is one free and great idea to engage everyone including your autistic child.
The suggestions above are various activities and game ideas you or someone else could play with your autistic child. Indoors or outdoors, they are free, fun and are great towards building a nurturing relationship with the autistic child.