The winter months are coming, and it is already time to start preparing for how to keep our kids with autism active and their minds busy. Summer provides so many opportunities outside, but the cold of winter and the potential wet, dreary weather often rules out outdoor activities for our kids with special needs. We are here to help with ideas for families that can be done at home with affordable materials and fun to be had by everyone in the family.
Homemade Obstacle Course
- Using simple items such as sheets and bed covers and living room furniture, parents can organize a small course that their child can pass through by jumping, hopping, or crawling through. Purchase hula hoops and fold up tunnels and create obstacles to jump in and crawl through. Use colored paper to cut into shapes and challenge your child to follow a sequence of steps. Even better, set this up at night and allow the child to navigate the course with a flashlight.
- Gather your child’s familiar items (or special new items) and hide them around the house. Give your child a fun bag or bucket to collect their finds. Have the child look for the items using a series of pictures, or if your child is reading, provide cool coded instructions and hints. For example: “Go to where we eat dinner and find something blue that loves rainbows and runs fast.” (Rainbow Dash character doll) Once they find an item, the next clue can be nearby such as the next picture or clue. When done collecting the items, have a play time together incorporating all of the items together.
Fun with Paint
- Don’t be afraid to get messy, with preparation! Use tempura paints which are easy to clean up. Allow your child to experiment with different ways of painting using traditional brushes, but also sponges and cut rags, or even just their fingers using finger paints. Find a baking sheet with an inch of depth and try putting down a large sheet of butcher paper and pour paint in small blobs around the page. Drop in a few marbles and roll them around over the paint. Allow your child to drive small cars and trucks with small tire treads to “drive” through the paint. Be sure to have a line of string and close pins to hang them up to dry over a paint proof surface!
Indoor Play Places
The following are examples of some locations close to the BAYADA Behavior Analysis Pennsauken, but many of these organizations offer similar experiences nationwide.
- Please Touch Museum (Philly, PA)
- Offers sensory guides
- “Quiet kits”- upon request
- High quality learning experience
- Learning Skills through creative measures for early STEM and performing arts activities
- Workshops for arts and music, also story times
- Sesame Place (Hulmeville, PA)
- Certified staff with sensory awareness and motor skills
- Special access passes for safe rides
- Sensory guides
- Noise canceling head phones
- SkyZone (National Locations)
- Sensory hours- 2 hour jump time
- Mondays or Fridays (depending on the location)
- Licensed workers and RBTS can accompany at no charge (trained)
- Quieter times (rooms)
- Chuck E. Cheese (National Locations)
- Open for 2 hours early on Sundays of every month
- Reduced light and noise
- Trained staff