How to Have Better Family Time – Autism and Sibling Relationships
There is no way around the truth. Autism is hard. Autism is hard for the child who has it. It is hard for the mom. It is hard for the dad. It is hard for the brothers and the sisters. It is hard for the family. Through the years, the problems that we face seem to multiply. I’ve got good news: there is always a way around or a way through these problems.
One of the problems that we faced early on with “A.”, our child who was diagnosed with autism, is lack of social skills with his peer group. For a long while he seemed unmotivated to interact with them. We needed a way to turn this lack of interest into enthusiasm. In this case, the peers he was not interacting with were primarily his siblings. With the help of a skilled ABA therapist we got him back on track. Now, he loves to be around all of us and actually asks for us to all play together. The biggest way we were able to do this was through the use of board games. We have found that board games help with all kinds of skills. From improving math and language arts skills to memory and fine motor skills – all around they have been great for A.
All kids with autism are different – that is why it is called a spectrum disorder. Our son has global delays and cognitive delay. Some games (especially games with a lot of strategy) are hard for him. However, challenging doesn’t mean impossible. He has learned to love some very complicated games. We’ve recently added in cooperative games for him to use but most games have a clear winner. This has been hard at times (if he was the one to lose) but we are now working on the social skill of winning with grace.
So now, I present to you some of A’s favorites:
When he was younger (8-10 years old) he enjoyed:
Uno-Roboto – ages 7+, 2-6 players, colors, numbers, matching, listening skills (robot). A family favorite!!!
Go Fish – 4+, thinking skills, decision-making skills
Crazy Eights – 4+, simple strategy card game
Old Maid – 4+, pattern recognition, critical thinking skills
Sum Swamp – for ages 5+ an addition/subtraction game, teaches turn taking, math skills odds and evens.
Candy Land – for ages 3+, 2-4 players, teaches color skills
Zingo – for ages 4+, 2-6 players, matching skills
Sequence for Kids – 4-6 years, 2-4 kids, colors, matching
The Ladybug Game – ages 3+
Bingo – ages 6+, numbers and matching
Don’t Break the Ice- ages 3-6, 2-4 players,
Sorry – ages 6+, 2-4 players
Eye Found It – 5+, 2-6 players, teamwork, matching and object identification, visual skills
Here are his favorite board games now (age 11-12):
Ticket to Ride – Europe –ages 8+, 2-5 players, color matching, complex strategy game, reading directions/maps
Sequence – 7+, 2-6 players, matching skills
UNO –ages 7+, same as the other UNO but without a robot
Connect Four – 6+, 2 players, some strategy involved, good fun for 2 kids
Trivia Pursuit (kids/family version) – ages 8+, thinking skills
Memory- ages 3+, memory skills
Forbidden Island – ages 10+, 2-4 players, strategic thinking, problem solving, teamwork. Beware – very difficult at first. Now a favorite!
Hullabaloo – ages 4-10, gross motor skills, listening skills, problem solving
Trouble – 5-15, 2-4 players, counting
Skipbo – ages 7+, 2-6 players sequencing skills, strategy
Please leave a comment and let me know if there are any others you’ve tried! We are always searching for more games to play!