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Are you looking for fun and engaging activities you can do with your toddler who has autism or ADHD? Staying active and entertained is an important part of healthy development, but finding the right enjoyable and safe activities can be challenging.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure your little one is having a blast while still getting the physical activity they need. If you want to upgrade your playtimes, here are some creative ideas for ADHD and autism-friendly activities that are perfect for toddlers!
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1. Building Social and Communication Skills With Interactive Games
One of the key aspects of supporting children with ADHD or autism is developing crucial social and communication skills. Simple games, like ‘Peekaboo’ or ‘Simon Says,’ can help toddlers practice and understand verbal cues, turn-taking, and attentive listening.
If you’re looking for a more structured approach, board games or puzzles aid cognitive development and teach patience and cooperation. Encourage your children to use descriptive language by asking open-ended questions about the game or the puzzle they’re working on. For example, “What color is that piece?” or “Can you tell me about this character in the game?”
2. Fostering Creativity With Sensory Activities
Sensory activities can be especially beneficial for toddlers with ADHD or autism because they offer a calm and soothing way to explore their environment and engage in creative play. Using materials with different textures, such as playdough, kinetic sand, or finger paints, allows children to experiment and express themselves tactilely.
Consider incorporating sensory exploration opportunities like a water table, rice bin, or sensory board to provide much-needed grounding experiences if your children have sensory sensitivities.
3. Promoting Motor Skills Development Through Physical Activities
Physical activities play a vital role in improving motor skills, increasing coordination, and releasing excess energy in children with ADHD and autism. You can incorporate gross motor activities like hopping, jumping, and playing catch into your daily routine through obstacle courses, dance parties, or neighborhood walks.
If they need some extra support with their focused motor skills, fine motor activities—like playing with building blocks, using a squeeze bottle to paint, or threading beads on a string—can help with concentration and hand-eye coordination.
4. Embracing Individual Hobbies and Interests
Each child has unique interests, so it’s really important to support them as they pursue these passions. Some children’s interests may manifest as collections, such as rocks, stamps, or action figures. These can give them a sense of accomplishment and belonging.
Others may gravitate toward creative outlets like drawing, building with LEGO, or playing musical instruments, which can enhance focus and improve self-expression. It’s important to remember that many children with ADHD and autism have co-occurring conditions, so you may need to modify some activities or tailor them to suit your child’s specific needs.
5. Enhancing Quality Time With Family Activities
Quality time spent together as a family is invaluable, and there are plenty of ADHD and autism-friendly activities that can bring everyone closer. Organize family outings like picnics, nature walks, or visits to sensory-friendly zoos, museums, or theaters. Many of these offer activities catered specifically to children with special needs. Keep a routine family activity at home, like cooking or family game nights, to refine their social and emotional skills while fostering family bonding.
Offering your toddler a rich selection of ADHD and autism-friendly activities can help them develop essential life skills while providing a supportive environment for growth and learning. Choose activities that are engaging and enjoyable.