12 hobbies and activities for autistic children

best hobbies for autistic children

What are the best hobbies for autistic children? I often say that our kids don’t do extra-curricula, they just do therapies. However, having a hobby or activity that you enjoy, where you can form friends through common interests, and learn from is still important for all. Hobbies also help build confidence, build skills, help fill time, and give a purpose, meaning, and variety to life. So what hobbies might best suit autistic children?

1. Physical activities and sports

Many team sports don’t suit autistic children for a number of reasons. But there are still lots of physical activities and sports that are good. From swimming to bike riding, outdoor hiking to gymnastics. Activities that move the whole body and are individual make for great hobbies. Almost every weekend you’ll find us bike riding, or hiking through scrub. It’s healthy, helps with fitness, and builds confidence and pride with a sense of achievement with each milestone or progression.

2. Reading or Video Learning

Autistic children typically have obsessive interests. This can make them experts on varied topics. Encourage reading or watching videos on favourite topics as a great educational hobby. We have a routine of every Saturday morning going to the local public library. We’ve read through every book in the public library on topics such as Zelda, history, World War 1 and 2, Minecraft, and transport. Not only is this hobby free, it is highly personal and motivation-driven (and educational too).

3. Computer or Console Games

Computer games are highly motivating and engaging as a hobby. They can build attention, be educational, and develop fine motor skills. Games don’t have to be competitive, violent or frustrating. We like games like Minecraft (also good for learning coding, engineering and creativity), and Civilisation/FreeCiv or Age of Empires (for learning about history, culture and strategy).

4. Arts and Crafts

Hobbies are also good for calm, sensory and emotion regulation. Arts can provide therapy, while being an enjoyable activity. Drawing, painting and crafts can form part of art therapy to process feelings and experiences while being a hobby. It could be drawing by hand, learning skills through videos, or drawing digitally on a tablet. This can be a cheap hobby (a ream of plain A4 paper for drawing) or really expensive (think, pottery classes and fancy canvas painting). Also think about graph paper books – grids make for great map making, pixel art, and planning out dungeons or cities.

5. Lego

Who doesn’t love lego? These ingenious little blocks make for a great hobby in creativity, building, following instructions, engineering, and imagination. Just look at the TV shows created around the building masterpieces with lego. This hobby can get expensive, but the materials last forever (so they’ll grow with your child or can be passed on). Plus, this activity can go for hours so it’s a worthwhile investment.

6. Cooking

Why not a hobby that is a life skill as well? Many autistic children have restrictive eating patterns (followers of the beige diet). Cooking can provide exposure to different textures and smells, and also give sensory input. While this hobby requires adult supervision in the beginning, when kids are older they can be independent in the kitchen. Plus, hopefully the outcomes are yummy! We know autistic kids who are now experts at baking and decorating cakes, and who are coffee baristas. Having cups of tea made for you is a great parenting reward!

7. Dungeons and Dragons (and other table top games)

Table top games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Heroquest, and even Chess make great hobbies. Through playing together, new friends with common interests can be made. Many table top games like D&D are non competitive – cooperative games can support social skills and be good for those with developing emotional regulation. You can’t lose!

8. Collecting for autistic children

Lots of autistic children have collections that relate to their special interests. From rocks and minerals to stickers or stamps. Collecting figurines or model cars, collectibles, dolls feathers or shells… the possibilities are endless and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. Having their collection on display around them can often make autistic children feel safe and happy.

9. Fossicking

While not a popular hobby, fossicking does draw its own crowd of committed followers. There may not be an old quarry or fossicking area near you. Often long travel is required to go out to opal caves or gold fields. But we have an old little slate quarry along the railway line near us that’s now a walking trail. There are a couple of dump sites where you can look for interesting slate, quartz, or pyrite. You could spend hours searching through and looking for interesting things. The challenge is only taking home a few and not tons in the backpack!

10. Coding/game making

Learning to code is something many kids are interested in. From block coding (such as using Scratch) at an entry level, through to coding with languages like python or java, there is a level for everyone. Making games can be satisfying and engaging. Who knows, maybe this hobby will even lead to a career.

11. Photography or Videography

Autistic children often see the world differently and photography is a great way to capture that. In today’s age of digital, you don’t even need to worry about wasting film and the cost of developing photos. This makes photography good for practice, making mistakes, and learning from trying lots of different approaches and angles. Videography is another way that children can express themselves and share their perspective on the world.

12. Music as a hobby

Our kids love having control of the Spotify playlist. They will create queues of their favourite songs and just sit and listen to them. Listening to music can be a relaxing hobby for kids. But making music (or practicing on an instrument) can also be a good hobby. While regular practice and the struggle of learning songs for the first time can be frustrating, there are rewards of being able to express yourself through music.

Conclusion: best hobbies for autistic children

Hobbies are important for building confidence, skills, and having a common ground to make friends.

From outside hobbies like sports, collecting and photography, to indoor activities. There’s something for all autistic children. Follow their interests to find a motivating, engaging and calming hobby for them. Good luck finding the best hobbies for your autistic children.

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