Autisitic adult and his children smiling after painting and doing arts & crafts together

If there is one thing that most of us can agree on, "adulting” can be tough! Balancing work, kids, and fun isn’t always easy, and that is why it is so important to have hobbies and activities that stimulate our bodies and minds. This is especially true for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because these activities can have lasting benefits and may even help improve symptoms of autism. For the most part, adults with ASD enjoy the same kinds of activities that neurotypical adults enjoy. Still, if you are looking for specific autism-friendly activities to do with autistic adults, teens, or children, we’ve got you covered! 

Why Activities & Hobbies Are So Important 

Recreational and educational activities are essential to physical, social, and mental wellness. They give us feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction, so why do so many adults forget to prioritize recreational activities, especially when we emphasize the importance of these activities for our young children? 

The benefits of recreational activities do not stop once you reach a certain age. In fact, they continue to provide positive effects well into adulthood. Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Improved communication skills 
  • The development of friendships 
  • Can lead to new interests and other hobbies
  • Increased autonomy and independence 
  • The feeling of community and acceptance
  • Provides enjoyment and fulfillment

Although everyone can benefit from participating in recreational and educational activities, it has been proven that they can be extremely helpful for those with mental health disorders, learning disabilities, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. 

Best Activities To Do With Autistic Adults, Teens, Children

If you are looking for fun activities to do with autistic adults, teens, or children in your family, you should keep a few things in mind. As we previously mentioned, most activities are probably fair game but remember that some people with ASD may have sensory processing issues or challenges when it comes to communication or social interactions. If you are looking to bond with a child or adult in your family, try discussing things they like and don’t like to get a better feel for what might be enjoyable. It is generally a good idea to avoid sensory-triggering or overwhelming situations. Here are some of the best ASD-friendly activities for : 

  • Outdoor Activities
  • It doesn’t matter how old someone is, being outdoors can be extremely beneficial for a person’s physical and mental health. Engaging in outdoor activities provides exposure to Vitamin D which is essential to cognitive health (learn more about vitamin D and autism). 

    Outdoor recreational activities have also been linked to increased attention span, improved motor skills, mood and overall sense of being. The following activities are some great ideas for outdoor activities to do with the autistic adults, teens or children in your life:

    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Biking
    • Hiking 
    • Fishing
    • Horseback riding
    • Badminton
    • Frisbee
  • Cooking/ Baking 
  • Cooking and baking is always a great activity to do with those who are close to you because it requires a sense of teamwork and communication. Find a delicious new recipe to make together or try making a favorite item (can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies). Plus, the great thing about cooking or baking with someone with ASD is that it is a reward-based activity that everyone can enjoy. Be sure to discuss what you will make, because, as you may know many autistic individuals can be sensitive to the texture and smell of the food. If you want added nutritional benefits with your recipe, try adding in a serving of Simple Spectrum Nutritional Supplement (can be used for adults too!)

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Any sort of activity that involves art can be therapeutic and calming, and that is why doing arts & crafts with ASD children, teens, and adults is one of the best activities to enjoy together. Art allows autistic individuals who struggle with communication to express themselves and can also be a fantastic way to involve sensory skills. Other forms of artistic activities include painting, music, ceramics, and writing.

  • Games
  • You can never outgrow fun and one of the best ways to enjoy a stimulating and fun activity with someone on the spectrum is through games. Board games and multiplayer video games are a great way to sharpen communication, memory, and social skills. Game selection will depend on age and preference but try choosing games that use visual recognition, and memory! 

  • Building Things
  • When it comes to fun activities to do with ASD individuals, you don’t always have to overthink it. Sometimes something as simple as building something or putting something together can be just as rewarding as something a little more extravagant. For people with autism, following a set of instructions or patterns can be very calming and satisfying. Building activities can include anything from legos, a bookshelf, or even puzzles. These types of activities may also improve motor and memory skills while encouraging creativity. 

    There are many benefits of recreational and educational activities for individuals with ASD, and this list barely scratches the surface of all of the activities that can be enjoyed together. As we continue to learn more about autism, you will most likely learn more about what works best for your loved one.