Children who are non-verbal may prefer alternative activities in comparison to their verbal peers. Activities for children who are non-verbal should have some focus on language development, such as tacting objects in a sensory bin, to further promote communication skills via non-vocal verbal language.
Outings and activities with non-vocal children may concentrate on engaging their senses, building upon their current repertoire of knowledge and skills, or boosting communication between the child and their loved ones.
Some easy, free (or cheap!) weekend activities for your non-verbal child with autism can be found below!
- Take a trip to the zoo or an aquarium! What better way to engage your non-verbal child than introducing them to the various wildlife, ocean, and exotic animals our world has to offer? You can enhance language skills by identifying each animal and having your child read the information posted. Communicate with your child further by asking questions about their favorite animal or even just something cool they learned at the zoo/aquarium!
- Go swimming! Even if it’s not summertime where you are, you and your non-verbal child can enjoy all the benefits swimming has to offer in other places such as your local YMCA or gym’s indoor pool. Swimming is great exercise for both body and mind and it’ll be a great workout for you and your child to complete together!
- Paint! What child doesn’t love to express their creativity? Setup some watercolors or washable paint, a large drawing/painting pad, a small cup of water, and some paint brushes (all of which can be found at the dollar store!). Sit or stand with your child and paint your hearts away. Build functional communication skills by asking your child to explain what they painted, how it made them feel, etc. via their method of communication.
- Visit a local beach or lake! These types of visits are great for a change in scenery and to get those language skills working regarding all the stimuli the beach and lake have to offer. You and your child can experience the sensory stimulation of the sand and water, build sandcastles, collect seashells, search for crabs, or have a picnic- the options will vary depending on the time of year, but overall, a beach or lake is a great weekend activity for your non-verbal child with ASD.
- Play a board or card game! Most games with children involved necessitate communication, so what better way to help strengthen your non-verbal child’s method of communication? Teach your child to play a new game or play an old favorite! Games such as Uno, checkers, Sorry!, and Scrabble are great games that inspire communication, engagement, and tons of fun!
- Bake something! Baking something simple with your non-verbal child may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complex! Look up a simple cookie recipe or even just dip strawberries in chocolate- your child will love the bonding time with you and getting to taste something they helped make! The kitchen is a great place to practice tacting and manding for objects and receive sensory stimulation from kitchen utensils, mixing ingredients, etc. Helping your child develop cooking skills early will promote a sense of autonomy that will carry them through adulthood.
These are just 6 of a long list of activities for autistic, non-verbal children! Nearly any type of outing provides cognitive stimulation for your child and will likely always provide opportunities to develop or strengthen your child’s method of communication skills, even just hitting up the grocery store!
Each new location your non-verbal child experiences, the more opportunities they encounter to learn new words and labels and strengthen communication skills overall. The bonding time, of course, will be invaluable, and you’ll both keep those memories forever!