Activities for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
Children diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, a condition that is classified under the autistic spectrum of disorders, have certain developmental strengths and weaknesses. There are, however, some general rules that parents of children with Asperger disorder can follow, and specific areas of development which may be focused on for improvement.
When establishing certain activities for your child, it is important to take into consideration the specific learning strategies which are best suited to children with Aspergers syndrome. This includes taking into account typical Asperger Syndrome behavior as well as your child’s particular interests, so as to ensure a positive and fun experience as well as an educational one.
Asperger Syndrome: Areas of Difficulty
In general, children with Aspergers syndrome exhibit some common areas of difficulty which may be taken into consideration when you are planning activities for your child. These main areas of focus include communication, social interaction, and social imagination. Other Asperger features can include problems with motor co-ordination and a hypersensitivity to sound, smell, and touch.
Children diagnosed with Asperger disorder tend to benefit from the following educational approaches:
- Visual aids and those that provide organization such as schedules and diagrams
- Learning in gradual parts so as not to be overwhelmed by content
- Routines and structures with consistent expectations. This includes regular at home activities, such as meals and homework
- Verbal instructions and communication
- Patience, support and understanding in a parent and educator
- Minimal distractions such as noise and interruptions
Visual Toys and Activities
Children with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to benefit from toys and activities that provide them with visual and spatial sensory stimulation to help improve their visuo-spatial skills. These can include activities that involve shape and color matching as well jigsaw puzzles or other toys that require construction.
Depending on the age and preferences of your child, the following toys, games and activities may be appropriate for Asperger’s syndrome:
- blowing bubbles
- a color torch
- jigsaw puzzles
- sorting toys
- Lego and other construction toys
- train sets
- drawing, coloring, and painting or toys that incorporate these activities
- picture or word bingo
- watching interactive videos
- computer games, although these should be monitored and used in moderation
To further help your child with communication and social skills, accompany TV or video watching with ongoing discussions about human behavior. In other words, point out certain behaviors enacted in the video to help your child consciously identify and understand these behaviors in others. Role-playing activities can also help the child enact these behaviors in order to understand them better.
Books and Reading
Reading can help your child improve his or her vocabulary. Look for books that provide more sensory stimulation such as those that have a visual, spatial or textural appeal that are more physically interactive. Consider board books, books with flaps, ones with unique fabrics and textures, word books that are accompanied by pictures or photos, puzzle books, and factual books.
Physical activity has shown to improve Asperger syndrome behavior and motor co-ordination. Physical activity that does not particularly require understanding, use of language, or imagination can be particularly enjoyable. The following physical activities may be especially enjoyed by children with Aspergers syndrome:
- playground toys such as swings, slides, and sand pits
- rocking horses
- riding toys such as bicycles
- climbing frames
- basketball net
Physical activity and exercise is essential to your child’s health, but be sure that he or she is monitored while engaging in these activities.
Social Games and Activities
Social games and activities can improve your child’s communication and social skills. Games that require taking turns are particularly beneficial for children with Asperger’s syndrome. It is best to start off with some simple activities. Consider the following examples:
- singing and dancing games
- picture matching and board games such as Snakes and Ladders or Guess Who?
Engaging in these social games can teach a child valuable lessons about winning and losing along with interactive rules.
Because kids with Asperger's syndrome have unique socialization needs, many parents feel that homeschooling is a better option because it allows the child to learn at his own pace, as well as to have a more focused approach to learning, without the possible negative side effects of socialization in the public school system, such as bullying. However, homeschooling should also include opportunities for socialization, such as trips to the library and park, during which time your child can interact with other homeschooled children.
However, depending on your child's condition and her unique needs, public school can also be an option, as it can provide your child with unique opportunities to interact with other kids. In some cases, a special needs school might be the most appropriate schooling option for your child.
To talk to other moms of special needs kids, visit this friendly special needs forum.