written by: Debbie Roome
• edited by: Paul Arnold
• updated: 1/22/2011
Children with autism can benefit greatly from games that help them to work on areas of weakness. These include home-made games and store bought games.
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Cariboo by Cranium can Benefit Autistic Children
Cariboo by Cranium is described as a magical treasure hunt game. Six balls are dropped into secret tunnels and then players draw cards in turn to see if they can unlock a door. There are four types of cards: letter, number, color and shape. If the child draws a card that matches a door, they use a special key to unlock it. Once all six balls are found, they can open the treasure chest.
Many parents and therapists have recommended this game for use with autistic children. As well as being colourful and fun, it teaches the concepts of letters, colors, numbers and shapes. The child also learns to take turns and wait while the other players match cards and open doors. Manipulating the key to open doors helps with fine motor skills. Cariboo is aimed at ages 3-6 but can benefit autistic children of any age.
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Musical Games for Kids with Autism
Music is an effective medium for helping autistic children to progress in the areas of social interaction and speech. Many musical games are simple and can be played at home with parents or siblings. Here is an overview of some games for kids with autism that are used in musical therapy:
Throwing and catching a ball with other children in time to music can encourage eye contact and strengthen gross motor skills.
Playing cymbals or a xylophone helps with coordination.
Singing simple instructions may be more effective than speaking them to an autistic child. Choose a tune the child is familiar with and make a game of singing instructions like ‘touch your nose’ or ‘sit on the floor’.
Some autistic children may respond to a sound game where various sounds such as an ambulance siren, a bird singing and a door closing are played. They then have to identify the sound verbally or choose a corresponding photo card. This encourages interaction with their environment and develops observation skills.
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Card and Board Games for Kids with Autism
There are many educational games on the market that can benefit kids with autism. Playing these with siblings and parents can be a good way to work on areas of weakness. While these games can be purchased, parents can create similar games by printing cards from a computer and laminating them for strength. Here are a few suggestions:
Faces and Feelings Lotto is a game where the child matches photos of children’s expressions to a verbal description of a feeling or emotion. This game is excellent for teaching body language skills and facial expressions.
Matching games where autistic children match a picture card to an item in the house can create a greater awareness of their surroundings and what objects are used for.
Simple board games such as Ludo teach colors and counting skills. They also introduce the concept of taking turns and of course the fun and laughter that accompany such games are beneficial.
There are many good games for kids with autism and these can help strengthen weaknesses and encourage more interaction with the world around them. Many can be made at home and easily introduced into daily life.