Parents who first find out that they have a child with autism wonder just what kind of fun they can have with their child. They worry that they might not be able to share their likes, interests and hobbies with their child. While those are completely natural concerns, the answer really boils down to the level of functioning that the child has.
Physical Activities For Autistic Children
The majority of kids with autism really enjoys motion and seems to be filled with endless energy. It can even be quite exhausting at times for parents, but it’s also a good motivator to stay in shape. Running, jogging, taking walks, and biking are not dismissed so long as the safety concerns are taken care of. Finding safe environments to do these activities for physical fitness is first and foremost. For parents who are concerned about biking, tandem bikes or special needs bikes or balance tires placed on a standard bike can really help a child with autism gain balance, muscle control, and skill.
Learning Activities For Autistic Children At Home
Indoor activities can include board games, simple bean bag toss games, video games, and computer games. All should be supervised and the child with autism learns through repetition, so frequent hand over hand demonstrations help them learn to play and play with others. Reading books and watching movies for a little quiet time to decrease anxiety and nervous activity are good too.
If a parent is fortunate to have an autistic child who isn’t very tactile defensive, or not at all tactile defensive, anything that involves sensory input that can be touched/ felt, tasted, stretched/ smashed/ squished/ crunched, heard, or smelled is a go. Just be sure that all materials are non-toxic just in case the child wants to taste the play dough or your bouquet of roses. Autism resource websites can help with ideas, and often have links directly to sensory items that will not over or under stimulate the child.
A child who’s much higher functioning who can speak and answer questions and understand right from wrong can engage in arts and crafts. Generally these children won’t try to eat glue or paint the walls and table; they understand they need to stick to the areas they are told. Lesser functioning children can still do art, but it has to be hand over hand, and sharp instruments have to be in the control of parents at all times.
Parents should also take note of what their children with autism like to do or are drawn towards. Encouraging interests just as anyone would encourage a child without autism is very important to their sense of self. Those that can’t vocalize what they like and don’t like will still be able to show an interest in something, and parents need to interact with their children on that level and with that interest. Bonds can be formed, it just takes a little extra effort when the child with autism doesn’t speak or rejects human affection.
In all cases of activity, indoors or out, stimulating or relaxing, never let the activity go beyond thirty minutes. Too much stimulation can happen very quickly with a child with autism, and then unexpected or unwanted behaviors start. It’s also a good idea to follow your child’s own cues. He or she will move away from an activity or get distracted and then it’s time to take a break or move on to something else. Parents really need to be in tune to their special needs children, because it makes all the difference in the world.
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