When it comes to after school activities , its a bit of a mine field. I am aware of the vast array of choice there is however what I have not yet found , is what my boy would love to do , apart from blowing balloons of course .
We have dabbled in many things but not yet found one that has stuck , although Cubs does seem to be going quite well , fingers crossed 🤞. He became obsessed with Swimming for while and he does still enjoy this however getting him to actually learn how to swim is a mission. We are still not there yet. He mostly enjoys splashing the water with his hands and playing sharks with me.
In the following post I will share with you the activities that me and my Emir participate in and the benefits we get from them, maybe it will help you to decide what activity to get your child with Autism into. This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through my post, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Emir joined Cubs about 3 months ago and although we have missed a couple of sessions, on the whole he seems to be enjoying it and does look forward to going each week. Apart from the time they were working towards the Fire Safety Badge and they decided to ring the fire alarm, that just made him angry, and for weeks after he just kept asking me to reassure him that would not happen again.
Cubs runs once a week in our area. They usually start the session with some games and then they join their relevant sixes and sit in a line and wait for instructions from Akala. The fact that Emir sits in the same place each time and with the same group , appeals to his nature however I was concerned about him following instructions. So far he is doing well with this. When I try to give him instructions he usually just gets angry and tells me to ” go back to work mummy” , he thinks this is the way to break my heart. During cubs, they participate in activities that work towards various badges.
They usually spend 2 or 3 sessions on each badge. They have worked on their Fire Safety, Navigator, and DIY badges since Emir has joined. Emir has gained his DIY badge which I am very proud of. He does enjoy painting and getting messy.
They usually finish the session with handing out badges, investing new cubs, updating the pack on up coming events and saying a prayer and shouting the Cub Scout Promise. Since Emir has joined, we have participated in a night hike , in which we got drenched as it was pouring with rain, if there is a hike they will go in literally any weather ! Character building I believe . Emir didn’t particularly like getting wet or see the point in it, but he fixated on the promise of the hot chocolate back at base so that got him through.
Of course now he associates cubs with hot chocolate so we always have to finish the evening with one when we get home.
I was worried how Emir would fit in to cubs , however , I had absolutely nothing to worry about. They have made him feel so welcome and they make allowances for his condition, and although he still has to participate in all the activities and follow instructions, I think they are a little bit more lenient with him.
Every summer they hold a summer camp over a weekend, and although I don’t feel Emir is ready for this as he never leaves my side, it is a good thing and some children with Autism would be ok with a night away from mum and dad.
The cubs always try and involve the parents and they are happy to accept volunteers. If you are considering Cubs for your child with Autism, I would encourage you to join them. Emirs confidence has grown so much as he gets praise for his achievements and seeing the badges he is awarded, makes me so proud.
Now if your child with Autism is anything like my Emir, they will be complete water babies and just love splashing around in the water for hours upon end. If Emir sees water , thats it, he’s in. It could be freezing cold, we could be in the middle of the town centre, if he sees an opportunity to splash, he will take it. Off come his clothes and in he goes. I’m not sure he will be able to get away with that once he’s 18 !.
I went through a phase of taking him swimming most days when I was a member of my local gym, however now I have cancelled the membership we don’t go as often. In my area we have a scheme called Amaze and they issue all children with an Autism diagnosis, with a Compass Card. This entitles them to free or discounted entry to many attractions. One of the benefits of the Compass Card for us, is free entry for the both of us into the swimming pool at the local leisure centre. You should check your local area for a scheme like this. I try to take him once a week and I am currently trying to teach him to swim…..again.
Teaching Emir to swim has been quite difficult as he will not focus. All he wants to do is splash about, however what I have found is that if we use a swimming float, he will hold onto this and if I tell him to kick his legs really fast and he will move fast, he absolutely loves this as he gets to splash and make noise and at the same time he is actually swimming without being aware that he is. You can find swimming aids and floats pretty much anywhere but click the following link for the one we use.
When i first started taking Emir swimming as a toddler, to gain his confidence in the water we started using a body float like the one below. This was a fantastic aid for swimming. Please click on the link below for further information.
I have looked into swimming lessons but as yet I have not booked any. I’m trying to find a teacher that will accommodate my sons condition so I am researching this.
Most leisure centres have swimming sessions with floats and slides but depending on your child’s condition, they may not like these sessions. I am lucky as Emir does not mind busy places so he can cope however if your little one doesn’t like crowds this may be little more challenging. I would have a look and see if the local pool offers any Autism friendly swim sessions or maybe check out when the quiet periods are. I am not aware that my local leisure centre runs any Autism friendly swim sessions, I may suggest that they do, but I am aware that they have an on site sensory room.
My boy and I love going to the cinema. I am not sure if he can get into the cinema free with his Compass card, I need to investigate, but we do have Cineworld cards. You pay a monthly fee and can see unlimited films for free and receive a discount on food and drinks.
Again I know that my local cinema do offer Autism friendly screenings of some films. Emir is ok watching a normal 2D film but I once took him to see a 4DX film. Erm that was not my best idea. Every time water sprayed at him he screamed and got very angry. He still talks about it now ! He doesn’t forget anything.
I am sorry for all the people watching the film at the time, as each time water was sprayed on him he would shout obscenities out very loudly. It was nearly as entertaining as the film itself. We then worked out that you could turn off the water spray , thankfully.
At the moment Emir is working on 3 and 4 letter words but it is actually surprising how many swear words he knows . Have a read of my post about swearing if you want to have a bit of a giggle.
The film he has loved the most so far has to be the Avengers films and The Secret Life of Pets 2. He laughed so much. I love his laugh. It’s the best sound in the whole world.
Recently, Emir watched the new Karate Kid. The one with Will Smith’s son in. Well for weeks he’s been telling me “Jacket on, jacket off” and “Be strong mummy!” And making the arm movements along with it, so I thought I would see how he gets on with Karate.
It turns out that someone I work with runs a Karate Club so I took him for a taster session and he did seem to really like it. Again I was concerned about how he would fit in and again my mind was put at rest by the lovely people running the club who made him feel extremely welcome and gave him extra one on one attention.
One thing that has occurred to me is that there are many many activities for neurotypical children and as parents of children with additional needs I think we shy away from certain activities but we really shouldn’t as they will quite often accommodate our children and why shouldn’t our children join in too. Why ever not? . So don’t be afraid. Bite the bullet. You will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
We have yet to book our second session, I believe he will get a month for free before committing to joining. I am following Emirs lead here. When he asks to go again, I will take him. He has mentioned it a few times so I think we may be onto a winner.
He does keep trying to karate chop me however and try his kick boxing on me while I am cooking the dinner, so I may have to think about setting some boundaries.
The way karate works is you work towards achieving a certain grading which is represented by the relevant coloured belt, with black belt being the highest. You follow commands in Japanese and learn the art of self defence. I think for Autistic children it could be beneficial as it encourages focus and discipline and getting into the many karate positions can help to relax the muscles.
Karate helps to develop and reinforce balance, focus, coordination and concentration. I think the repetitive movements associated with Karate, appeal to the nature of Autism and proprioception.
Proprioception is the awareness of the position and movement of the body and in Autism there can often be issues with proprioception, therefore Karate offers some level of assistance with this.
I would strongly recommend Karate as an activity for your child with Autism based on this alone. Just do lots of research and find a club that is willing to accommodate your child’s individual needs and bear in mind that it can be quite a costly hobby.
I have found that Emir does like to get his hands dirty and he loves to be outdoors so a couple of years ago I made him his own little garden to grow plants in and he did really enjoy that. He still loves watering and looking after plants, so I am thinking of making another little garden plot for him to maintain.
I made the garden by laying some stones down on a little patch by our front door and I bought some potted plants and layed them out on the stone patch. Emir then watered them daily and watched them grow. Unfortunately as plants do, some of them did die and the garden just seemed to come to a standstill once the winter set in but I do intend to build another one and I think this would be a lovely idea for your children with Autism too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you just need to designate a tiny patch of your garden to do this.
Choose colourful, cheerful nice smelling plants and buy a little watering can. You can get some really cute little garden accessories for your little ones. Little wellies, gloves and watering cans. We loved going to the local garden centre to buy our plants and accessories and Emir loved having the responsibility of looking after something and watching it grow bigger.
It’s also a nice easy activity to do together. It is something for you to talk about and get excited about together and with my son I found his confidence grew and it gave him something else to focus on besides balloons.
Now this is a particular passion of mine, I just cannot afford it. When I was younger I loved Horses and riding. I did shows and won rosettes and was actually quite good. But as with lots of things, it just sort of subsided. I have had a few opportunities to continue riding, as an adult, but , its just so expensive and time consuming.
So I decided one day to take Emir riding. Well I have to say this is NOT his thing. The horse was too big, too smelly and too unpredictable for his liking. He was actually ok until the horse decided to make a blowing noise with his nose and then that was it. Emir needed to get off. It was a shame actually because he was happy to sit on the horse while it was moving. But he will not entertain the idea of going again. All because the horse made a noise.
The thing with Emir is he is very very sensitive to noises and smells. This morning he got angry with me because he could smell the chicken sausage I was cooking him for breakfast.
Although not for my son, riding for children with Autism actually has a lot of excellent benefits. Going back to the topic of proprioception, riding a horse actually helps to stimulate the Sensory preceptors. Riding horses has been used for children with disabilities, as a therapy. Equine therapy helps children and adults with Autism to develop the core skills needed to function in society.
Lots of stables offer riding for the disabled programs and have facilities that cater for children and adults with additional needs, so it’s definitely something worth looking into. Check out the Riding for the Disabled Association Website at https://www.rda.org.uk/ for more information about your local stables.
One of the little boys in Emirs class at school attends climbing lessons and is doing very well . For his recent birthday party they all went to the climbing place and had a go. This is done at our local leisure centre. Again I believe it can be quite expensive but it’s definitely worth having a look into. Emir loved it so much and keeps asking to go again.
Again I think this activity is excellent as it encourages , balance, focus and concentration. Anything physical such as climbing will help to work muscles and tire out our children and help with coordination.
For those parents that simply don’t have the money or the means to try those activities I would like to recommend a book which I myself have, with a range of activities that you can do at home together. I will write a post soon about the different at home activities to try, but in the meantime please have a look at the link below at my personal recommendation of a book of activities to try.
Alternatively if you find you want to stay at home and work on developing your child’s academic ability, you can make this a fun activity to do together by incorporating learning into play. There are of course lots of educational games out there for sale. Emir and I will often sit at home and work through work books together but I find his concentration will diminish very quickly and he cannot focus for a long period of time.
For this reason I find educational games more effective as he has fun but also learns at the same time. We like to build towers together and then knock them down but we will count blocks and name the colours, and play matching games. We also like to play card games where he has to spell out what he can see on the picture card and we also like games such as Jenga and he loves to build his marble run.
Are you worried about your child’s speech ? I have found some excellent resources to help with this.
Please click on the link to have a look at some more educational activities you can do together at home. These help specifically with language development and speech.
I hope you have found this post helpful and I hope it has given you some ideas of activities to do with your child. Please do not be put off , like I said most places will support a child with an diagnosis of Autism.
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