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My Favorite Things For Kids with Autism

Too much to read and so little time!

Autism Break Through by Ron Kaufman – This was probably the first book I ever read for professional development out of college. Even though I no longer do Son-Rise therapy, I still highly recommend it for how it talks about children on the spectrum and treating them with respect.

The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin – This book is great if you’re a nerd like me who just loves hearing about brain scans and how the brain works!

Mindset by Carol Dweck– Okay you have probably heard of Carol Dweck. Either that or you didn’t study education in college, in which case no shame. Her book on mindset covers the difference between fixed and growth mindset and its role in everything in our lives.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon – This is the only fiction book on my list for now and is wonderful for a mystery read, while still giving insigth into the way one person on the spectrum’s mind could work.

It’s Nobody’s Fault by Harold S Koplewicz – This one was assigned reading in college. It makes the list because it was a true eye-opener to the stigma parents of children with special needs face.

The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam – Full disclosure, I first picked up this book for personal reasons. I still think it belongs on the shelf of every special educator. It teaches us about the brain, and the easy way data and understanding are presented.

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – While not specifically for kids with special needs, often I see children put on restrictive diets that do not teach them how to respect their own hunger, body image, and learn to choose food independently. This book contains a wonderful chapter on raising intuitive eaters.

Pout-Pout Fish – By Deborah Diesen – This book is near and dear to my heart. It is about a fish that chooses to be sad. Make sure to read in silly voices!

Good-bye Havana! Hola New York by Edie Colon – The sad story of a girl migrating from Havana to New York without her grandparents. Don’t worry there’s a happy ending.

A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky by Michael Driscoll – This book covers every astrology topic you can think of! And the illustrations are gorgeous!

How I Met My Monster by Amanda Knoll– This fun story is excellent for your kiddos who like to laugh. It tells the story of a boy who meets a monster and learns to behave.

Plasma Car – The plasma car is wonderful for building gross motor skills, exercise, and general play. Plus since it can support such a high weight, it is easy to model how to use it!

Travel Hula Hoop – If you move from house to house and do pretend play this is a must! It is easy to bring from location to location and can be anything! Mine has been a bus, an airplane, a ship, a pond, a circle for hockey – pokey, and even occasionally a hula hoop.

Bilibo – So simple yet so wonderful. My kids with autism love to sit in it and spin around! It’s great for gross motor skills, sensory play, sorting collecting things. The possibilities are endless. A must for all play therapists!

Puzzles – I love puzzles, and I typically buy mudpuppy, just because I find their designs more creative and they have wonderful travel sets.

Games work on social skills for kids on the spectrum and are so much fun!

Custom Made – Obviously there’s no affiliate link here because this one comes from your head. It’s usually what I start with though when teaching games. Keep it simple and make sure your students on the autism spectrum find it motivating!

Sorry – Simple and fun! Your students will need to have good control of their hands to pick up and move the pieces, but the rules are so simple the movement is all your kids will have to focus on in this game of chance.

Trouble – This game is much like Sorry because you only have to focus on the movement if that your goal. But it also has the benefit of the dice being contained and the pieces of the game providing tactile feedback.

Clue Jr. – This one I love for my kids who are learning more advanced gameplay and strategy. It’s all based on pictures and my students have always loved the pieces.

Battleship – This one I say don’t be afraid to cover up. Often students on the autism spectrum don’t have a long attention span. Just take a couple of pieces of paper on all the boards, take out a few of the boats, and you’ll have shortened the amount of time it takes to play the game.

Who doesn’t love watching animals on webcams!

My students love animal cams! These are my three favorites in terms of activity and general fun.

Brooklyn Cat Cafe Kitten Cam – I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. Sushi my wonderful cat came from the Cat Cafe, and their kitten cam is high in its adorableness factor.

San Diego Zoo Cams – We used these to go on virtual field trips during the pandemic. They were a real morale booster!

New York Wolf Conservation Center – These cams are still things my kids check on to see if there are any pups! I combine it with a few articles on endangered species and the history of the wolves. They also have a great YouTube channel if the wolves aren’t around.

I am always looking for new resources, books, and activities for my students. Since I work with kids on the autism spectrum I feel like my methodologies and favorite things are always changing. Make sure to check out my blog and join my email list to get my list of free and cheap websites and apps!