Summer is an exciting time for children to explore, engage, and have fun both indoors and outdoors. For children with autism, engaging in activities that suit their unique needs and interests is crucial for their overall development and well-being. Senior Director of Children’s Services Chelsea Corley, recommends five summer activities specifically tailored for children with autism:
Splash pads offer an excellent range of sensory-friendly experiences for children with autism. Visit the water park or play area for a controlled and predictable environment, allowing children to experience the joy of water without overwhelming sensory input. The gentle splashing, colorful water sprays, and interactive features provide a soothing and enjoyable sensory experience, promoting tactile exploration and body awareness. Engaging in water play also helps improve coordination, balance, and motor skills. If the water parks are too busy, you can buy a splash pad of your own!
Sponge art is a form of sensory engagement for a child with autism and is a perfect choice for summer. Grab a bucket of water, paint brushes, and sponges of different shapes, sizes, and colors, and kids will “paint” the driveway or sidewalk with water. When their beautiful masterpieces dry, they can do it all over again! Add sidewalk chalk and their artwork will be bright and colorful when wet on the pavement. This outdoor art activity allows children to express themselves creatively and safely while stimulating fine motor skills and allowing children to express themselves artistically.
Sensory-Friendly Amusement Centers
Places like Funzilla, Sesame Place, Six Flags, Katz JCC, Franklin Institute, We Rock the Spectrum Sensory Gym, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and other entertainment parks, offer sensory hours and experiences for a safe and inclusive environment for children with autism. This is a great opportunity for children to engage in active play, build gross motor skills, develop social interactions with peers, and explore various sensory stimuli, contributing to their overall development and well-being. Read more about autism-friendly places in our area that we recommend or search for places like this in your city to see if they offer sensory hours or days near you!
Bubbles are simple yet captivating summer activities that can be enjoyed by children with autism of all ages. Children may ask for you to blow the bubbles so they can watch them float through the air to enjoy the experience of being mesmerized and engaged or take the lead and want to do it themselves. Grab bubbles and wands of any size and color or bubble machines from a local store for different variations of bubbles. Bubbles provide visual stimulation, promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
Swings are a classic outdoor activity that can bring immense joy to children with autism. Visit your local playground and find a swing set! Children with autism love the repetitive and rhythmic motion of swinging back and forth because of the calming effect it provides. Swings provide vestibular simulation, which aids in improving balance, body awareness, and coordination. For extra fun, add in a game of peek-a-boo, tickles, and bubbles for some extra smiles and laughter!
Summer is a season filled with opportunities for children with autism to explore the world and engage in meaningful activities. Splash pads, sponge art, sensory-friendly amusement areas, swings, and bubbles offer sensory stimulation, and promote creativity, social interaction, and physical development. These activities can be adapted to suit individual needs and preferences, ensuring an inclusive and enjoyable summer experience for your child. Remember, always prioritize your child’s comfort, and don’t hesitate to consult with professionals or therapists for personalized recommendations.
Have a great summer!