Best Outdoor Games For Your Autistic Child!

By Ishana Deb, Contributing Writer
August 11, 2016
Autistic Child

As most pediatricians say, “a little bit of sun, air and dirt is good for kids.” But shifts toward urbanization and an increase in crime rates have made parents around the globe think twice about letting their kids play outdoors.

The prime method that children develop and learn is through social communication. Playing outdoors is a superb way to expose children to opportunities to practice skills and articulation.

Participation in games and social activities is extremely important for the healthy growth of a child with autism. Be it indoors or outdoors, playing and communicating with peers is a great way for children to develop their interactive comfort and social skills.

Benefits of outdoor games for autistic child

For a child with autism, communication can be one of the greatest challenges that hinder his or her development. Parents of children with autism often report that their child experiences anxiety or a lack of interest in meeting new people and getting into situations that require interaction with others.

According to a research study on “Activity Participation Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, in a sample size of 713 caregivers of autistic children aged 5 to 12 years, the frequency of participation of the children was much less in tasks where social interaction was required, with the number further decreasing with increase in age. On the other hand, individualized functions in active social environments, like swimming, saw greater participation.

Benefits of outdoor games for children with autism

  • Activities: Games that involve a repeated set of movements can help a child with autism develop and improve his coordination skills.
  • Exercise: Regular outdoor sports can increase cardiovascular capacity, muscle strength, and general fitness, a vital requirement for children with autism.
  • Concentration: Another big challenge for children with ASD is their short-term attention span. Playing outside requires them to be alert at all times and analyze their surroundings for safety, which in turn helps them to retain focus on the task at hand.
  • Interactions: Communication with peers is a great way to ease a child out of his nervousness. A neighborhood playground or park is a good place for him to explore his abilities and at a pace at which he is comfortable.

Outdoor games for children with ASD

  • Biking: Although it may sound like a difficult task that is unlikely to be pursued by a child with autism, riding a bike is a great way to build self-confidence.

    Biking requires the rider to focus on several different tasks at once, thus improving motor coordination. Focusing on the road as well as on his own posture together helps the child to work on his low attention span.

    Encourage your child throughout the process of learning, let him take his own time. Once the child has mastered the balance and can ride around without help, he can develop an incredible sense of independence and confidence which can motivate him to explore further into his surroundings.

  • Park/playground: Interaction with other kids in the same age group is an effective way for children with ASD to improve their social skills in a safe environment.

    Playing at the park involves getting on the swings, slides and climbing on the bars, all of which improve physical and psychological health.

    Children with autism are often diagnosed with depression; playing outdoors can be a good method of alleviating the effects.

    In addition to building confidence, children can also learn to test their own abilities and recognize their interests.

  • Outdoor games for autistic child
  • Racing & obstacle course: Track and field activities do not always require a sophisticated and equipped Stadium; the neighborhood playground is good enough for the kids to have a good time.

    Racing is one of the best outdoor games for children with autism and can help familiarize them with a sense of healthy competition. Organized race events among the neighborhood kids can be a lovely opportunity to induce a spirit of progress and achievement.

    Obstacle races are the next step, adding a little bit of challenge to the child’s progress level. He has to focus on speed as well as coordination, helping him further develop his motor skills.

  • Scavenger hunt: Another great way to challenge and encourage kids with autism, a scavenger hunt is much more than a fun afternoon activity.

    This kind of exercise exposes the kids to a slightly higher level of challenge while in a safe environment, retaining all the fun of a simple game.

    Participation of parents in the activity can also aid in emotional bonding. They may either form teams with other grown-ups or their own kids, adding a twist of fun to the game. This also teaches children about interaction, team work, and cooperation.

  • Pool games: Children love to play water games in the summer, and pool parties are an obvious hit that time of the year. Swimming is great exercise and a wonderful stress reliever.

    You can spice up the party with swim races, dance competitions, and other water games that keep the children physically and mentally engaged. You could also announce prizes for the best performers and participants to generate greater interest in the activities.

  • Camping: A super hit among children of all ages, camping is an effective way to allow them to explore their surroundings, as well as their own abilities.

    Camping is also a competent method of teaching kids about conserving nature and natural resources. When out on a trip, teach them to clean up after themselves and not leave garbage lying around in the camp site.

    Camping can also involve many other fun activities like fishing, rowing, cooking over a wooden fire, nature watching, sharing stories over a bonfire, and more, which can keep the kids engaged throughout the trip.

  • Survey on outdoor games for autistic child

    A study on “The Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Children with Autism” released by the National Taiwan University reported that among 15 participants selected from a variety of backgrounds, participation in outdoor games helped develop 7 prime traits of communication, cognition, interaction, emotions, physical fitness, activity and a decrease in autistic sensitivity.

    Coaxing your child to go out to play can indeed be a difficult task. Most children with ASD have an inclination to avoid social interaction and engagement.

    You can start slowly, hinting at the great weather and how fun it would be to go outside. Drive around the park or playground with him, making sure he sees other kids laughing and playing. As your child grows familiar with the outdoors, he will be comfortable moving out and about on his own. Encourage him to talk to kids in the neighborhood and allow him to attend social events, like birthday parties.

    Always be enthusiastic about his achievements, ensuring that, no matter how small, his efforts do matter!