Ten Family Activities for Children with Autism in Toronto

Families of children with autism in Toronto don’t need to look far to find sensory-friendly experiences for bonding that are enjoyable for everyone involved. It’s a win-win: engaging in inclusive activities strengthen family connections and are essential for a child’s development.
Here are ten family-friendly activities tailored for children with autism in Toronto:

1. Share A Focus with Board Games and Puzzles 
There are ASD-friendly board games and puzzles that cater to your child’s abilities and interests while keeping the rest of the family engaged. Depending on your child’s age, there’s anything from Operation, for fine motor skills, to Mouse Trap, that has a common goal everyone can work toward (making a type of Rube Goldberg machine). Jigsaw puzzles are non-competitive and keep everyone working together too. See if you can find a Toronto landmark (like the CN tower) that your child can discover in real life once the puzzle is finished. These sort of activities promote cognitive skills, social interaction, and can be adapted to suit different sensory needs. 

2. Take A Trip To A Sensory-Friendly Place

There are plenty of sensory-friendly attractions in the community to explore. Look into child-friendly museums and galleries. A visit to the Toronto Zoo or aquarium is always a favourite. Maybe a day-trip to Niagara Falls. Sign up for the newsletters from theatres, farmer’s markets, petting zoos, community centres, and art stores to find specific times or events designed to accommodate sensory sensitivities, providing an inclusive environment for families.

3. Go For A Splash
Pools, water parks, and other water-based activities can offer a calming and enjoyable experience for the whole family. Whether it’s playing tag in the lazy river at a local pool or setting up the sprinkler at home, the soothing nature of water can be beneficial for children with autism. 

4. Reconnect With Nature

Explore the calming and sensory-rich environment of nature by taking family walks in parks, bird sanctuaries, or nature reserves. Many places will give you the opportunity to observe wildlife from a safe distance as well as touch different textures in the information centre. Take an afternoon to step out of the bustle of Toronto’s din and enjoy the soothing sounds of the outdoors. 

5. Make It A Movie Night

Create a cozy night-in at home with sensory-friendly adjustments. Use a projector if you have one to play a movie big up on the wall. Make popcorn and snacks. Consider using blackout curtains, providing comfortable seating options, and allowing for breaks if needed. Choose movies that cater to your child’s interests and comfort level while keeping the rest of the family entertained. Have you seen The Jungle Book? 

6. Get Creative With Arts and Crafts
Everyone can have the opportunity to express themselves through arts and craft activities. Use various materials to explore textures, colors, and shapes. Give pottery a whirl, or set the stage for a future masterpiece with watercolours on parchment paper. This provides a sensory-rich experience while allowing for an indirect way for the family to communicate and share goals.

7. Let Loose With A Dance Party
Here’s a fun way to encourage exercise. Foster a love for music by organizing family dance parties. Choose tunes that your child enjoys and encourages them to get moving. Find yourself a star machine or disco ball to promote sensory integration and just have fun. Dance is a joyful way to spend time together. 

8. Discover The Next Top Chef 
Who says meal preparation can’t be a fun family activity? Involve your child in age-appropriate tasks from mashing potatoes and garnishing salads to washing vegetables and stirring ingredients. Cooking together not only builds life skills but also encourages teamwork.

9. Step Inside A Virtual Tour or Experience
Explore a new world from the comfort of your home by taking virtual tours of museums, landmarks, or animal sanctuaries. Many galleries, maps, and even real estate listings offer engaging interactive tours online. This allows your child to experience new things in a controlled and familiar environment. 

10. Break Out The Blanket for a Family Picnic
Create a sensory-friendly picnic in a local park or even your backyard. Set up a tent and stock up on flashlights for an overnight experience. Be sure to bring familiar and preferred foods, comfortable seating options, and sensory-friendly items like fuzzy blankets or fidget toys. Enjoying an outing outdoors can be a delightful family experience. 

Inclusive family activities contribute to building stronger connections and creating positive memories for families with autistic children. By considering sensory needs and individual preferences, these activities ensure that every family member can actively participate and enjoy shared moments together.