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How to Keep Your Special Needs Child Busy When Stuck Indoors

October 12, 2023

Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or just too cold to go outside, it’s important that parents know how to entertain and keep their special needs kids busy when they’re stuck inside.

how to keep an autistic child busy

Next time you and your kids are looking for a way to beat cabin fever, try one of these fun activities:

1. Bake together

Try a simple, kid-friendly recipe like sugar cookies and let your child help you measure all of the ingredients (and maybe sneak a taste, too). If you have any fun cookie cutters, let your child go crazy cutting shapes out of the dough before you put them in the oven.  After the cookies have baked, bring out icing and sprinkles so your child can exercise his/her creative muscles by decorating the cookies. Baking cookies together can help your child learn how to follow directions while still having fun. Plus, you both will get to enjoy the fruits of your labor at the end of the activity!

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How to Keep Your Special Needs Child Busy When Stuck Indoors

2. Play video games

Some parents want their kids to stop playing video games, but instead, try sitting down to play with them.  A lot of special needs kids struggle with their motor skills, and video games can help these skills develop in a way kids actually enjoy. Depending on the video game, there might be some problem-solving opportunities for your child as well, so he/she will be working on their critical thinking skills without even realizing it.  Ask your child to teach you how to play so you can bond over an activity that he/she already enjoys.

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3. Create a texture book

Some children with special needs, such as those who have autism, may like to touch different textures, so spend an afternoon stuck inside the house creating a texture book.  Go on a scavenger hunt throughout the house to find items with different textures—sandpaper, tissue paper, and aluminum foil, for example—and attach a piece of each on different pages of a scrapbook. This activity is a fun way to help children develop their creative skills while also working on their sensory awareness.

4. Dance

If your child is getting restless inside the house, why not turn on some fun music and dance your hearts out together? Dancing helps children become more aware of their bodies, which is especially beneficial to children with sensory processing disorder or other similar conditions. Let your child freestyle his/her own dance movements for a while and then instruct him/her on how to move the body so he/she can also practice how to listen and follow directions.

5. Mold clay

Do you have any kind of clay, Silly Putty or Play-Doh laying around? Put it to good use the next time you and your child are stuck inside. Think of fun shapes you can mold together or let the child come up with one on his/her own. Kids love the feeling of pulling and squishing the clay in their hands, and this activity also helps children use their imagination and work on their motor skills.

With all of these fun activities on the agenda, kids will never be bummed about being stuck in the house again!
This article was featured in Issue 58 – The Greatest Love of All: Family

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