If you have a child who has autism, it is not easy to get him involved in ordinary hobbies as these can be taxing for them. Even those who are on the mild end of the spectrum will have trouble due to their social, communication, and sensory problems. They also have a preference for repeating things they say or do, which makes it more difficult for them to work around these normal activities. This is the sad truth that family members face, which is why they tend to isolate their autistic member from the ‘normal’ ones so they can do other things.
However, this truth should not hinder parents and other loved ones to try new possibilities and should not be a reason to raise their hands up in surrender. Instead, they should seek for the best ways to learn from and with their autistic child.
Choosing The Proper Activities
“Many teens with autism – boys and girls alike – don’t pay close attention to the social examples and cues of their classmates and peers. As a result, many need help understanding that these behaviors are important.” –Stormi Pulver White, PsyD
There are a lot of means for individuals with autism and their loved ones to enjoy activities together. Sometimes, special accommodations are necessary, but in most cases, autism can either be beneficial or is no issue at all. To succeed, though, you must prefer a hobby and a location that spells comfort and is interesting to your child.
- Begin by observing the ways that your child plays – what he enjoys, if he asks questions or is curious about the activity he is doing, and if he chooses to play with you.
- Next, just stay beside him initially, and then slowly join in the activity. Instead of teaching him and throwing your ideas, follow your child’s lead. Don’t think about what’s appropriate or not or if your child is not doing it the right way. When you are dealing with an autistic child, prioritize on the communication and engagement aspect. Don’t give much relevance to whether he can follow instructions or not.
- Find more means to increase your child’s eagerness. How can you contribute to his pastime? Which activities will help him explore his surroundings and learn more about the world? If he enjoys puppet shows, she might like musicals. If he loves playing with blocks, would he perhaps be interested in playing a video game about blocks?
- Enjoy! Keep in mind that the point of building hobbies together is to establish connection and trust. If in any case the activities that you do stress both of you out, especially your child, decrease the frequency a little bit and find more creative ways to make it more fun and less stressful.
Great Hobbies You Can Start Doing Together
- Lego. These plastic building blocks have become a sensation all over the world. Not only is it challenging but it is fun and challenging as well. Find out what your child’s favorite characters are. There’s a Mine Craft Lego available, or maybe he wants just the colorful ones. Let him try playing alone, but still with you beside him. Ask him questions and eventually join in by helping him out with some complex structures that he wants to try. If he seems irritated that he isn’t able to achieve his goal, then try something simpler.
- Playing Train. Learning everything about trains is a favorite pastime for people in Europe – children and adults alike. But if you’re American, you can always introduce this to your child. Besides, who doesn’t want to play drive and ride? Let him watch Thomas, the train that’s loved by everybody on television. Together, learn about how trains began, the different parts of the train, and whatnot. Bring him to the museum to see the evolution of trains from then and now.
- Video Games. The addiction to video gaming is massive even for adults, and the world knows that. Because they come in varying levels of difficulty, your autistic child can enjoy choosing which level he is comfortable with. Right now, kids are so into Mine Craft, and maybe yours will love it too. With proper supervision, you and your child will learn to value patience, determination, and love for each other’s company.
- Hiking And Strolling. Your child, like most if not all individuals with autism, typically are not great team players. However, they have a lot of vigor and energy to release. If they belong to the ‘hyperactive’ category, then you can consider bringing him hiking or strolling with you. To be cautious, stroll around the neighborhood, maybe through the roads where you know people so he will feel at ease. Then you can progress to hiking in a mountain a few hours away from home. Enjoy sightseeing, bird watching, and stargazing. Of course, incorporate talking and laughing. “Whether you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or not, the evidence is strong that getting outside just for a little bit can be very helpful.” Andrea Bonior, PhD, clinical psychologist explains.
These are only some of the many activities that parents with autistic children have shared with us. If you and your child have learned hobbies other than the ones mentioned above, please do share your ideas and let other parents and families know. Remember, “Children today who demonstrate signs and symptoms of AS have the advantage that treatment is available early enough in their lives that they can learn adaptive behaviors that will help them in their interactions with others.” Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC said.