Five Fun Games to Initiate

Here are five games for autistic children that can be adapted to work with a variety of children with different motivations and different functioning levels.

We hope these game ideas help you connect with your child and help simulate your own creativity so you can come up with more games of your own. If you feel like you’re not creative or like you are running out of motivation, read this letter from our Son-Rise Program Staff.


Goal: To inspire an increased interactive attention span.
Motivations: Pictures or puzzles and going on rides.


Goal: To invite more eye contact.
Motivations: Chases or tickles; costumes or hats.


Goal: To encourage use of longer sentences.
Motivations: Physical games (e.g. rides, bounces, swinging, etc.)


Goal: To inspire a deeper interest in other people.
Motivations: Imaginary play, trophies / awards / medals.


Goal: Conversation with social content.
Motivations: Whatever your child likes to talk about (e.g. cars).


Letter from The Son-Rise Program Staff

Dear Wonderful Parents and Volunteers,

Everyone I know who has had experience with The Son-Rise Program, either as a parent, a volunteer or as part of our professional staff say that they have learned more than they ever expected about themselves from using this program.

One thing that I have learned about myself from working in The Son-Rise Program (and there are many others) is that I am a creative person. Eight years ago, when I first started using The Son-Rise Program, I used to tell myself, “I am not a creative person,” and subsequently when I went in the playroom, I tended to always introduce the same games over and over to the child with whom I worked.

One child’s mother pointed out my rigidity to me one day in a feedback session. By doing this, she gave me an opportunity to uncover the belief “I am not a creative person,” and realize how this was holding me back from helping this child grow. I was scared to try new games in case the child didn’t respond to them, which I would then take as more evidence that I was not creative and end up judging myself and feeling bad about the whole situation. Safer to stick with games that already worked! So I judged my creativity, to stop me from being creative, and keep me stuck in the “safe zone.” I thought that this made me a more effective facilitator because the child wanted to play most of the games I would offer.

When his mother explained to me that one of the things we wanted to help this child with was his flexibility and openness to new experiences I realized that this belief I had created about myself was limiting me and holding this little boy back from learning more.

I wanted to be as helpful as I could to him so I decided to change this belief about myself. I decided instead to believe that I was indeed creative but just had not yet developed that part of me because I had never asked myself to be very creative. So I started going in the playroom with all sorts of ideas of games I wanted to play and each time he ignored me or showed no interest in my game I told myself “that’s because he’s autistic, not because I am not creative”. This enabled me to feel comfortable with my games, no matter how they were received by the child, and therefore allowed me to be persistent – I just kept trying until I found a new game he wanted to play with me. From that point on there was no limit to the wacky, fun games I would bring into the playroom.

We wanted to help stimulate some ideas for anyone out there who may be finding themselves playing the same game over and over, or might be telling themselves “I’m not creative.” So here are some game ideas that can be adapted to work with a variety of children with different motivations and different functioning levels.

I, and the rest of the staff at The Autism Treatment Center of America, hope that these games for autistic children will help stimulate more and more ideas and that you enjoy the process of playful persistence in your playrooms.

We are always here cheering for you

The Son-Rise Program Staff

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