You will have probably noticed that children with autism can find attending to and concentrating during activities that they are not particularly interested in, very challenging! With developmental delay in the areas of joint attention, language, communication and social skills being core features of the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is not surprising that a child would find it difficult to keep focused during an undesired activity.

We therefore must make learning activities fun, engaging and desirable!

Using a child’s particular, personal interests during learning can really capture their attention and engage them. I wrote a specific post about using a child’s individual interests in learning here.

Key factors to think about when choosing and making fun and engaging resources include:

  • always use multi-sensory materials that stimulate more than one sense
  • make sure the child is going to want to look at it! (i.e. doing worksheets everyday will be very boring)
  • make sure there are no other distractions available (i.e. completing one stage of an activity at one time, with just those required resources, rather than having everything on the table at once)
  • the desired use of the resource is modelled effectively so the child knows how to use it

Here are some fun and engaging activities, materials and resources I will be using this winter:

Shaving foam and baking soda ‘snow’

Fake ‘snow’ is always fun to play with and is very multi-sensory. Any favourite play toys could also be added to a tray of fake snow! If you need an edible-safe version, just use cornflour and a small amount of water.

Building snow people
These picture below is a pre-made pack of of ‘build your own snow people’. This activity could also be easily made with homemade playdough or by using polystyrene balls and the accessories could be made out of paper or card.

Painting on ice
This is a great creative activity which can explore mathematical and scientific concepts such as ‘cold’ and ‘melting’. Because the ice melts, the way the paint looks keeps changing, creating lots of different patterns.

Dressing up as a snowman during ‘The Snowman’, ‘Snowman’s Story’ or ‘The Snowman’s Nose’
Using props, resources and dressing-up can make a story come to life and much more fun for all children!

Sensory water bottles

You can get creative and put anything in the water bottles that the children may find fun and interesting! You can even make them into ‘snow globes’.

Spinning and dancing snowman
Just because he’s funny and makes the children laugh! These type of toys are great for use during Attention Autism activities.

Please feel free to share any engaging resources and activities you are currently using in the comments below!

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Steph Reed

Hi I’m Steph Reed, an Autism Specialist Teacher and Consultant. Following 10 years of teaching many incredible autistic young people with complex needs, I developed and led a School Autism Outreach Service, and have also been part of a senior leadership team as SENCo and Inclusion Leader. I now provide outreach, training and consultancy with practical support to schools, services and families using personalised, child-centered and evidence-based approaches. I also have personal experience of learning ‘differently’ and with success! I am here to support you in feeling confident and skilled in meeting diverse needs and ensuring children are reaching their potential.


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