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The Best Board Games for Children with Autism

February 19, 2024

On a cold, rainy day, there’s nothing better than board games. But for your child on the spectrum, which autism board games are best?

Studies have shown that board games can benefit children with autism as they help develop skills they would otherwise find hard to master. Below is a list of seven of the best autism board games and how they can greatly benefit autistic kids.

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1. Candyland

Candyland is one of the most popular board games, with millions of customers yearly. It is a relatively straightforward game where players must pick a card from the deck to progress.

No choices are involved, but the game can have roadblocks, with players losing their turn or being sent back to the start. This game teaches autistic children to manage disappointment and handle it in front of others.

2. Battleship

Another old favorite. Battleship is a strategy game where you try to sink your opponent’s fleet of ships before they sink yours.

This game teaches logical thinking and reasoning and introduces autistic children to grids and coordinates. A child with autism will find strategizing and planning beneficial.

3. Chess

Autism and chess? A match made in Heaven! Chess proved to be one of the most beneficial games for autistic adults, teenagers, and kids.

It is a strategy game where players use pieces to try and eliminate the opponent’s pieces. It is one of the most popular games in the world, with it being played at a professional level and on the Sunday brunch.

Kids with learning disabilities can also benefit from this match. A study published by the Journal of Human Sciences found that children who were given chess lessons and math tuition scored higher than those who were just given math tuition.

A young boy with glasses playing chess https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/best-autism-board-games/

4. Mastermind

Mastermind is a code-breaking game played by the code maker and the code breaker. It involves thinking and rational reasoning. 

If you’re looking for board games for students with autism, Mastermind may be the one! A 2020 study concluded that college students who played mind games improved critical thinking and made fewer logic errors.

5. Animal Upon Animal

This is another game involving rolling the dice. Players must try to stack animals one over the other. Each dice roll decides how many animals they can attempt to stack. 

It is said to improve hand-eye coordination and motor coordination skills. Not only is it a real test of patience, but this is also a great board game to improve social skills in autism.

6. Chinese Checkers

Another classic, the game’s objective is to move your marbles from one corner of the board to the other before the other players. It can be played with 2, 4, or 6 people.

Chinese Checkers is a simple game involving strategy and is useful for kids with autism. They will benefit from the thinking involved and pick up new moves every time they play.

A Chinese Checkers game board https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/best-autism-board-games/

7. Scrabble

Scrabble is everyone’s favorite word game. Players are given a random selection of letters and must make as many words as possible with them. This game teaches spelling and can also help autistic children with social interactions.


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Benefits of Board Games for Autism

Board games can be highly beneficial for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. While the specific advantages can vary from person to person, autism board games can:

  • Improve social skills,
  • Encourage interaction, turn-taking, and cooperation, 
  • Help with cognitive development,
  • Improve problem-solving and planning skills,
  • Help children with sensory issues.
  • Helping autistic children and adults manage their emotions and reduce anxiety.

The Magic of Autism Board Games

Even in these computer-dominated times, board games make sense for autistic children.  If your child has special needs, autism board games will help him develop skills faster than any computer-based game.

What are you waiting for? Get those old board games out and introduce your kids to hours of fun and learning.

This article was featured in Issue 55 – Celebrating with the People We Love

FAQs

Q: Are board games good for autism?

A: Yes, board games can be beneficial for individuals with autism as they provide opportunities for social interaction, communication, and cognitive skills development. Choosing games that match the individual’s interests and sensory preferences can enhance their engagement and enjoyment.

Q: Why do autistic kids like games?

A: Autistic kids may be drawn to games because they provide structured and predictable environments, which can be comforting for individuals with autism. Additionally, games often involve clear rules and routines, offering a sense of order and control that can be appealing to autistic children.

Q: What do kids with autism enjoy doing?

A: Autistic individuals often develop intense and focused interests, which can emerge early in life and evolve over time. These interests may range from art, gardening, and animals to more specific topics.

Q: Which autism games help with social skills?

A: Games designed to enhance social skills in individuals with autism include activities that focus on turn-taking, cooperation, and communication. Examples include board games that encourage social interaction or video games with scenarios promoting teamwork and social engagement.

References:

Teaching Individuals with Autism Problem-Solving Skills for Resolving Social Conflicts, 2021
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40617-021-00643-y

Effects of a Modified Power Card Strategy on Turn Taking and Social Commenting of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Playing Board Games, 2014
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10882-014-9403-3

The Effects of Mind Games on Higher Level Thinking Skills in Gifted Students
https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/jef/issue/52776/506669

Analysis on math success of secondary school students playing and not playing chess (Sakarya province sample)
https://www.j-humansciences.com/ojs/index.php/IJHS/article/view/3693

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