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Functional Activities for Autistic Children

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/30/2010

Want some ideas for your autistic child? Here are some functional activities for autistic children that you can use in your classroom.

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    Functional Activities for Autistic Children:

    Autistic children find it difficult to pick up skills by just watching the world around them. This is one of the reasons they often need training in various life skills. Moreover while teaching autistic children, it's best to use the actual materials and actual situation, because they have difficulties with generalization. Functional activities for autistic children are a great way to introduce new concepts to them. The activities given below help improve other skills in addition to teaching life skills. Also given are tips on how to use them with children with autism.

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    Self Care Activities:

    A lot of children struggle with different aspects of self care. For some it can be a bath, for others it is being rubbed with a rough towel, and some may not like the texture of soap. Before you use self care activities in the classroom, make sure you talk to the parents about any difficulties the child has. This will help you to adapt the activity, and also to be prepared for challenging behavior. When you present the activity, present it as a fun activity. You could tell the children that it’s time for all the stuffed toys to take a bath, or that you are going to play a dressing up game. Use fun and non threatening activities to help the child develop a positive attitude toward self care, and learn new skills.

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    Cooking Activities:

    Cooking activities are great for children with autism as they are very sensory in nature. A lot of different textures, sounds, smells and tastes are a part of cooking. Here too, ensure that you talk to the child’s parents about allergies, or any specific issues the child may have. Help the children make simple snacks that they can enjoy eating too. Providing simple recipes that they can follow helps develop literacy skills. Pair up children for cooking projects to develop social skills too. In addition cooking will also be helpful at a later stage of a child's life when independent living is being considered.

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    Cleaning Activities:

    Cleaning related activities are also important life skills that are essential for independent living. Children with autism must be given small chores in the home and classroom to help them practice these skills and incorporate them into their daily life. Cleaning activities can be cleaning window panes or mirrors, washing dishes, washing clothes, or sweeping the house. Teach children about cleaning materials, and tricks to get rid of dirt. Involving children in cleaning will also make them more responsible and encourage them to keep things clean in the first place.

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    Car Washing:

    This is another great sensory activity that children with autism will enjoy. On a warm sunny day, provide hosepipes, sponges and soap, and the kids are sure to have a lot of fun washing cars. Just ensure that they have a change of clothing. Help children with autism enjoy and relish the various sensations; the warmth of the sun, the cold water, the spray of the hosepipe, the sponge and the soap.

    Thus these are some functional activities for autistic children based on my own personal experience working with them.