Game night is a fun way to bond with friends and family, relax and unwind, and develop useful skills. For families with children with ASD, planning a sensory-friendly experience is a must to get the most out of this occasion.
Here are some practical tips for hosting a sensory-friendly game night for children with autism.
Create a Peaceful Environment
Start by setting up an environment that feels safe and soothing. According to ABA Therapy Center Florida experts, many children with autism are sensitive to light, noise, and other forms of overstimulation.
Create a peaceful environment with dim lighting, ambient sound or low music, and comfortable seating. Consider adding soft blankets or pillows for the children to choose from when sitting down. This environment will be comforting to ASD children with sensory issues and feel more relaxing for everyone involved.
Consider Dietary Preferences
Another aspect of creating a sensory-friendly environment is providing snacks the children are comfortable with. Many ASD kids struggle with textures and tastes and have a clear picture of what they will and will not eat.
Take the time to learn everyone’s dietary preferences and ensure their favorite snacks are available.
Collect a Variety of Games
When choosing games for your evening of fun, keep it simple. Opt for games that don’t have a steep learning curve or sensory features (Operation is a no). It’s also wise to avoid long-lasting games or those that lead to frustration (like Monopoly).
Some great games for a sensory-friendly game night include:
- Candy Land – This colorful game is easy to understand and is a great way to practice counting and matching skills.
- Snakes and Ladders – This classic game is easy to understand and is a great way to work on counting and following directions.
- Connect Four – This classic game of strategy is easy to learn, visually simple, and non-threatening.
- Sequence – This classic card game is great for improving memory, pattern recognition, and strategy skills.
These board games are fun and engaging while also being accessible and developmentally appropriate for children with autism. It’s always a good idea to try a game out with your child first to see if it’s a good fit for them and their individual needs and interests.
Transition Into Other Games
Another challenge people with ASD face is managing change. Even something as simple as switching from one game to another can be difficult to process.
Be clear about what’s going to happen next with ample time for the kids to prepare and process. Don’t hesitate to offer little breaks between games or rounds for everyone to recuperate.
Create Space for Breaks and Privacy
Create an inclusive environment that caters to each individual. Making space for children to take breaks without judgment or take a few minutes alone is a must. It’s also kind to provide items like headphones for sound-sensitive children.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can create a sensory-friendly game night that is inclusive and enjoyable for children with autism.