Old Fashioned Fun

Sometimes holiday breaks can try the patience of parents and kids. The unstructured free time can be particularly agitating for youngsters with autism who thrive on predictable routines and unchanging schedules. Even when you have a limited budget and limited time, you can introduce some old-fashioned, tried and true activities to fill the time until school or jobs start up again.

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MAKING A HOUSE. A large box from an appliance store or a sheet draped over a card table gives your youngster their own private space. Some individuals with autism like the comfort of boundaries, so they enjoy the confined space. They can take a pillow and blanket inside with a flashlight and favorite book. They can play cards or dominoes, make an “office,” or deem the box a playhouse. Some of my friends with autism gather all their stuffed animals or hot wheels cars into their own space. Don’t be surprised if a youngster takes a nap or wants to sleep the night in their new home.

OFFICE WORKER. Give a youngster a space on a table or desk to create their own office. Better yet, find an old desk at a garage sale and move it into their room. Depending on the kid, you can give them a spiral notebook, recycled paper, pencils and pens, file folders, a stapler, ruler, paper clips, colored pencils, a coloring book, and even an old telephone and typewriter (remember those?) Some youngsters will enjoy pretending they are working in an office. Other kids may be more concrete and not interested in pretending, but still enjoy organizing papers in files, writing or coloring, and generally fiddling with the office supplies.

DRESS UP. One of my students even likes to put on a button up shirt with his Dad’s old tie when he “goes to the office.” Another likes to dress up like an adventurer when he “camps out” in his refrigerator box. Both families are thrilled their boys are able to participate in imaginary play.

TIP FOR THE DAY: Remember to keep it simple. No need to spend lots of money or time when looking for good old fashioned fun for your youngster with autism.

And speaking of simple, keep in mind that subscribing to daily posts – either brief podcasts or short e-mails on http://FAQautism.com is easy and free. I appreciate your telling your friends about this resource.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com

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