Crafting can help your child with autism develop fine motor skills while simultaneously encouraging their self-expression and building self-confidence. In short, it’s a great way to support their growth toward their happiest, healthiest self. Plus, it can be fun for them and you.
For kids with autism, sensory crafts can be particularly enjoyable. You want to find craft projects that engage their senses. That includes sight, of course, but you might also want something they can feel (like Play-Doh) or smell (like scented markers). They may also really enjoy crafting with natural materials, like good-smelling flowers or highly textured pinecones.
Craft time is a chance to find out more about what your child likes while also encouraging their development. Since kids with autism thrive when they have structure, it can be helpful to set up a specific craft project for them. To get you started, here are a few ideas:
You can make your own non-toxic finger paint with ingredients you probably already have on hand. And making the paint can be fun for your child with autism since it gives them the chance to mix their own colors.
Add some flour to a bowl, then add enough water to get a thick liquid — remember, you want to be able to paint with your fingers here. Then, grab some food coloring. Mix up a few different colors so your child has options.
Next, get a blank piece of paper or canvas. Your child may want to craft freely, but some kids benefit from more direction. You might encourage them to paint your family, a nature scene, or something you know they love (like dinosaurs or trains).
If your child with autism doesn’t like getting dirty, they can still get the sensory benefit of finger paint. Just put a pair of latex gloves on them before they get started.
Just like with finger painting, some kids with autism will dive straight into crafting but others will need some guidance. Think of things that would be relatively easy to mold out of Play-Doh, like your house or a truck. If your child enjoys sculpting simple items, you can encourage them to make more complex ones, like a sculpture of their sibling.
Engaging with the Play-Doh engages multiple senses at once while giving them a way to express their creativity in 3D form.
Art From Nature
Start with a walk around your neighborhood to gather supplies. This could be rocks, leaves, flowers, pinecones or needles, dirt, a found feather, or anything else you come across that catches your child’s eye.
Head home with your haul and give them some child-safe glue and a blank piece of paper. Let them arrange their found treasures into a piece of art, attaching them to the paper with glue. Not only does this give your child a chance for self-expression, but it can also help them look for beautiful objects when they’re out in the world. They may even start a collection to use in future art projects.
Crafting gives kids with autism the opportunity to learn skills while fostering their own creativity. That’s why we make it part of our days here at Stride Autism Centers. If you’d like to learn more about our program for young kids with autism, contact us.