Challenged at an early age to engage the world and learn how to verbalize their wants and needs, autistic children require patience, understanding and guidance at more intense levels than other toddlers. Help your child or student open up by making her feel appreciated and loved. Accomplish this by making eye contact, praising her efforts and engaging her first when it's time to play or learn.
Tissue Paper Butterflies
It's important for children with autism to gain manual dexterity. Making tissue paper butterflies lets them practice finger work. You'll need various colors of tissue paper and pipe cleaners as well as scissors and thread or string. To begin, encourage kids to select their favorite colors of paper. They'll need two for each butterfly. Next, stack the paper and trim to resemble butterfly wings. Take a pipe cleaner and fold it in half, placing the wings between the two pieces. Twist together on top, until they resemble antennae and curl the tips. Lastly, attach a piece of thread to the back of a pipe cleaner for hanging.
Water Balloon Toss
This game allows young children to practice cooperation and teamwork skills. It also helps autistic children engage their classmates. Fill balloons with water. Next, divide the group into two teams and hand out at least two or three balloons per team. All teams stand apart from one another,about the same distance. A referee shouts, "Go," and all players toss balloons to their partners. When one toss is caught, both player take a step back and toss again. When a team drops a balloon they are out. Players continue tossing and taking steps further away from each other until one team is left. The last team standing with a balloon wins.
Draw your autistic child out of his solitary world by engaging him with a variety of sensory experiences. Create five different zones, one for each of the senses--sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. Complete the tasks in each zone alongside your child to maintain engagement. This will help him open up to the larger world in small, incremental, manageable ways. An example of a zone activity for touch is to take a roll of masking tape and place a small piece on different parts of both your bodies. Name the parts as you remove the tape or sing a song to make it fun. For the taste zone, cut up various pieces of fruit or small bites of food and drop into a brown paper bag. Close your eyes, taste a piece and guess what it is. For scent, have several scented lotions, soaps or flowers on hand. If it's a nice day, explore the scents, sights and sounds of the outdoors.