Winter Activities for Your Child with Autism
For parents, finding winter activities for your child with autism can be a challenging. While the snow can be a fun and welcome activity for children, other times, the bitter cold can prevent children from playing outside. So, how do we keep children and children with autism busy during the cold winter months?
Build a snowman – this can be a wonderful activity that your child can do independently or as a family. Consider building a replica of a favorite character or naming your snowman. Be sure to always explain that a snowman is only temporary and will melt when it gets warmer!
Sledding – get your child active by finding a park (be sure to find a safe space!) where your child can enjoy a trip sledding down a hill. Consider getting a sled big enough for two people so your child can sled with the assistance of an adult.
Frozen Water Balloons – fill balloons with different color water (just add food coloring!) to make a fun and beautiful display in your yard. Fill the balloons with water and place them outside. Within a few hours you should have a beautiful display of frozen water.
When the weather turns bitter cold or there are several inches of snow on the ground, you may find your child’s school closed and a house full of children. Here are a few ideas to keep your child with autism (and all of your children!) occupied when they are stuck inside:
Pajama Day – consider letting your child have a lazy day in pajamas. Make them their favorite breakfast and let them watch a favorite movie or TV show. Make a fort with pillows and blankets and let your children enjoy a cozy day inside.
Mall Visit – If the kids (and you!) are itching to get out of the house, take a trip to the mall. Make a game of walking around the mall to get some steps in and energy out. If you are able, let your child pick out a new toy or item once you have done so many trips around the mall.
Movie Day – this can be done at a local theater or at home. If you want to get out of the house, take advantage of discounted matinee prices and take the kids to see a favorite movie. Pop some popcorn at home and bring that jumbo size purse to provide some affordable snacks at the theater.
Winter Tactile Games for Children with Autism
Windy Snowball Race
Create a pond-shaped racetrack from poster board on your table. Place two cotton balls on one side of the track at the starting line. Give your child a straw to blow through. Have your child blow the cotton balls (snowballs) to the other side of the track. This task encourages breath control, eye control, and lip control.
Marshmallow Snowball Bracelet
Attach a blunt threading needle to a piece of string or elastic. Allow the child to poke the needle through each marshmallow and string a bracelet. When the bracelet is finished, tie it to your child’s wrist and encourage him or her to eat the marshmallows. This activity goes well with hot chocolate. It encourages eye-hand coordination, fine motor control, and tactile discrimination.
Gather unique objects such as baby carrots, licorice strips, and buttons. Give the child a piece of paper and paint and encourage the child to use the objects to paint a snowman. This activity encourages tactile discrimination, control over activity, and developing a pincer grasp.
Prepare sugar cookie dough according to the package directions. Roll the dough flat and have your child help you cut the dough into pairs of simple shapes (circles, triangles, squares, etc.), making sure that each shape has an identical pair. Cook the dough according to the instructions on the package. Have your child use his or her clean hands to mix together 1 mashed up banana, 1 cup of marshmallow crème, 1-½ teaspoons of maple extract, and 5 drops of green food coloring. If your child resists, offer a plastic glove to help. Cool the cookies and have your child match the shapes, spreading the maple-banana frosting between them to make sandwiches. This activity emphasizes tactile desensitization, matching skills, and following directions.
Want To Build a Snowman?
Using white modeling dough, encourage your child to roll different sized balls from it and build a snowman. Show the child how to roll the dough to make balls. Talk with the child about the different sizes of balls that are needed. Say things like, “This ball is big. This ball is medium. This ball is small. The big ball goes on the bottom.” This activity encourages social skills and communication, sensory input, and hand manipulation skills.