The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
A former, leading, Hollywood children’s acting coach once said this about autistic children: “It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village.” It’s a beautiful, poignant thought by Coach Elaine Hall. For those raising autistic kids, you strive hard to entertain their bright, creative, young minds in the best possible ways. Our behavioral experts are sharing their tips for engaging autistic children in comfortable and interesting activities and hobbies.
Legos are the iconic, plastic, building-blocks that kids have been playing with for decades now. Maybe your child is a Lego fan, and if they are, there are almost infinite ways to pursue the hobby in millions of combinations with these interlocking, colorful bricks.
These days, there are Lego conventions, Lego retail stores, and even Lego amusement parks. You can help your child construct Lego cities and create intricate blueprints or Lego artwork. Autism therapists believe that playing with Legos helps children refine their social and communication skills.
Not every child with autism has physical energy to burn, but if yours does, then a good walk or hike is an excellent way to get fresh air and exercise and to explore the world around them. It doesn’t matter if the hike is an urban one just down the street or at a favorite mountain spot deep in the woods. Being around nature is calming, full of curiosity and fun.
You could bring binoculars and do some bird-watching and develop a new shared interest. Or you could sit there and dangle your feet in a nearby stream and listen to the wind. Don’t push your child. Always have an exit strategy if they want out.
Trainspotting is a blast for people of all ages, and many autistic children enjoy every aspect of this hobby, from memorizing train numbers, schedules to makes and models, and a lot more. There is something truly fascinating about the big moving wheels of a train, its colorful cars, and its unique engine.
Expand your child’s world of autism trains with a visit to a train museum, by watching movies about trains, reading train-related books or building a model train together. There are a lot of ways to connect with your amazing child and be immersed by this classic hobby.
Another wholesome way to engage children with autism is through the popular genres of science fiction and fantasy. Here is a chance to encourage creativity and uniqueness through imaginative and futuristic concepts.
Maybe an autistic child is intrigued by time travel, parallel universes, or extraterrestrial life. There are books, videos, movies, conventions, and clubs that all attract sci-fi and fantasy fans. You can encourage an autistic child to write and create their own universe, dress up in costume, and explore the world beyond our galaxy.
Jigsaw puzzles are fun, educational, a wonderful family or solo pastime and something autistic kids are often attracted to. These puzzles also come in a variety of types such as wood, cardboard, foam, rubber, and more. When a child with autism plays with a jigsaw puzzle, they are benefitting in multiple ways. Behavioral experts say that a child improves in problem-solving, attention span, memory, fine motor skills, and social skills.
Even autistic children with non-verbal skills enjoy sorting and assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Solving a puzzle builds independence, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment. Jigsaw puzzles come in so many interesting types and themes. For example, choose an image that you know a child will enjoy putting together as in a jigsaw puzzle from a movie they enjoy watching.
Jigsaw puzzles always feature interesting shapes, colors, edges, and sizes and are easy to choose or modify depending on the age and/or skill level of the child. Good, wholesome activities and hobbies are essential for every kid. Autistic children also enjoy exploring their world and expanding their interests. The best way is to make it fun and to try following the child’s lead. Take it one step at a time, and work around any challenges that may arise. Every child is unique and finds their way.