Popular Games And Activities Adapted For Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Your child on the autism spectrum just wants to play like all of the other kids. Unfortunately, some games might be more challenging for them, at least for the first few play-throughs. That doesn’t mean that your child shouldn’t get to play!

There are ways that you can modify common children’s games to make them more accessible for children on the autism spectrum. Whether they only need modifications when they’re starting out or they use them long-term, they’re super easy. Let’s talk about them!

Read on to learn all about how to adapt popular games for kids with ASD. 


Hopscotch is a fantastic game for children with autism. As a matter of fact, hopscotch resembles a sensory path. Sensory paths are great for neurodivergent children and they’re commonly used in schools and daycares.

Hopscotch can also be frustrating, however. It requires a good amount of dexterity and it’s difficult for children who are still developing their gross motor skills. Of course, that’s what makes it such a valuable game.

Hopscotch is fairly straightforward, but you can modify it in various ways depending on your child’s specific needs.

Let’s say your child has fairly good gross motor skills, but they have a hard time keeping track of numbers. This leads them to get frustrated when they play because they can complete the task, but they may still do it “wrong” if the numbers confuse them.

Instead, use colors. This is an easy switch! You can combine numbers and colors to help the child understand numbers while they play. 

You can also focus on specific skills to help your child’s motor skills. Maybe if they struggle with fine motor skills, the real challenge won’t be hopping, but picking up the marker they tossed. Let them walk to the right spot to pick it up to break the motion down.


Everyone knows tag! Tag is a great game for young children who are working on their gross motor skills and who are a bit too young to understand complex rules. The game is simple: one person is “it” and they have to tag another person to then becomes “it.” The game continues indefinitely.

There are, of course, variations. In some games, every person “it” tags becomes an extra “it” and the last person standing wins. In other games, the person “it” tags has to freeze until a non “it” player unfreezes them. 

In other words, there are options already. Games like tag are great for social skills, and developing social skills in autistic children is a challenge. This is a great way to get children to interact that doesn’t require complex conversations. A child can play tag without having to speak.

To make the game a bit better for children with autism, consider putting the game in a confined space, like one part of a playground or a gymnasium. You can also have “it” wear something special so other children can identify them easily. Perhaps “it” wears a special scarf and when they tag someone else, the new “it” has to wear it too. 

Guess Who

“Guess who” is such a fun game for kids and adults alike! In this simple game, each player gets a board full of different character cards. They also each draw a card with one of the characters on it.

The goal of the game is to guess the other person’s character using yes or no questions. This is great for teaching children to pay attention to details and to ask precise questions. 

Children with autism tend to be quite literal, so to modify this game, make sure you’re only asking questions that can be answered with facts, at least at first. For example, “Does your character have a large nose?” is too subjective. A better question would be “Is your character wearing a hat?”

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek can be tricky. It’s a fun game for children, but some children with ASD are wanderers, so encouraging hiding behavior may not be good. You don’t want to leave them out, however, so you simply have to make a few modifications.

Before the game, make sure you discuss the rules with the child. Give them boundaries for where they can and can not hide. Let them know that if they hide somewhere they’re not allowed to, they can not win the game (often, you want to make consequences clear from the get-go). 

Consider picking an exact phrase for children to say when they find each other so there’s no confusion. For example, children have to say “I found you!” as soon as they find another player. 

You can also give the child a sensory toy to play with while they’re hiding. If they’re a good hider, it may take a long time before someone finds them!

Simon Says 

Simon Says is a classic game for children. It teaches them how to listen and follow instructions. It can be frustrating for all children, but children with ASD, who may respond more poorly to losing or being “out,” could use some extra help.

It’s a good idea to make a list of potential commands for “Simon” to choose from. Let the child see the commands so they know what to expect. This will remove the element of surprise from the game. 

For very young children, you can remove the rule that says a child shouldn’t follow instructions that aren’t preceded by “Simon Says,” but this does kind of defeat the purpose of the game. Doing this for the first few play-throughs may help the child adapt, however, and it can get them ready for “real” games in the future. 

It’s Time to Play

So which of these popular games will you play with your child with autism spectrum disorder? Almost any game can be modified to suit your child’s needs if you’re creative. Work together with your child to see where they’re struggling and make the game work for them!

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