Activities for kids with autism in Brisbane
Autism Spectrum Disorder or autism, is increasingly in the spotlight due to media reports of increased prevalence rates and the never-ending search for causes and cures. Parents of kids with autism can feel limited by options for activities as a result of their child’s need for strict routine, inability to cope with crowds, noise or other sensory input, and difficult behaviours which can be more difficult to manage in public.
Children with autism however, can benefit from a range of activities and should have the opportunity to enjoy participating in the many activities available to kids in Brisbane. The key to getting out and about with kids on the spectrum is a little bit of forward planning.
When preparing your child with autism for a new adventure, consider the following:
1. Start with activities that are largely predictable, such as a train ride on a familiar route or a walk along a road visited many times before. Discuss your plan to alter the route or catch a later train prior to doing so.
2. Prepare to be flexible. You may need to leave a place or event before it’s finished if a meltdown is imminent. Try again another time. The next time may be different.
3. Try to plan activities around what is relevant to your child and incorporate special interests and hobbies, rather than what you think kids his/ her age should be interested in.
4. Plan your day and include your child in the planning. Preparation may include showing your child photos of the place you are visiting, writing a schedule of your day together, packing a bag together of all the things you might need.
5. In your bag, pack pen and paper for you or your child to write instructions or draw pictures for non-verbal or pre-reading kids. For sensory challenged kids, you may want to include earplugs, sunglasses, an iPod and headphones, fidget toys and other items that calm or divert attention.
One of the great things about living in Brisbane is that there are plenty of options for kids with autism and quite a few agencies that offer support to parents wanting to help their child participate.
Most mainstream playgroups and mums groups are very welcoming of families who have children on the spectrum, however Playgroup Australia run playgroups especially for kids with autism. You can find one by clicking here - http://www.playgroupaustralia.com.au/index.cfm?objectid=F85EF1BC-0BB9-CA13-B8D98FA6AE3E2830.
Many kids with ASD love public transport. Often a train, bus or ferry ride can be an outing in itself! Try short trips first to gauge your child’s enjoyment, before embarking on lengthier trips. Look at maps, plan your route, count the stops to your destination, listen to the engine or feel the vibration under your feet. Remember that kids with autism often see and feel the world in a different way. Use these trips as a chance to see the world through their eyes.
ASD Kidz movie days
ASD Kidz is a support group for families who have children with autism. Every few months they organise an autism friendly movie day, which means that kids on the spectrum are free to move about, stim, and enjoy the movie in a judgment-free environment. Visit their Facebook page for more information - https://www.facebook.com/pages/ASD-Kidz-Familyz-Inc/163088713743185
Music is enjoyable for most kids, and participating in music groups can be both beneficial and enjoyable for kids with ASD. The evidence supporting Music Therapy as an effective treatment option for autism is primarily anecdotal, however many kids love participating. Informal music groups can be equally fun, and may include singing and/ or using instruments. Either search for a therapist if specifically seeking Music Therapy or try going along to one of the Queensland Orchestra’s Kiddies Cushion Concerts.
Visit an Indoor Play Centre
For those kids who just love to run and bounce and climb, consider going to an indoor play centre. Choose a time that’s likely to be less crowded, and go for it. There are indoor play centres located all around Brisbane. If you are unsure if this is the place for your child, consider ringing ahead first. Find out if they can make specific recommendations about how to make the visit more enjoyable for you and your child.