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The Therapeutic Magic of Play: 6 Play-based Activities to Try at Home

Occupational Therapy is more than just exercises and tasks; it is about engaging your child in purposeful activities that promote growth and independence. The use of play in this context acts as a bridge that connects therapy goals with the natural inclinations of children. It not only captures their attention but also opens the door to meaningful learning experiences. Of the many benefits, here are three areas that play in Occupational Therapy helps kids with autism: 

Social Skills Development: Play in occupational therapy provides a structured environment for children with autism to practice and enhance their social skills. Through interactive play activities, they learn to take turns, share, communicate, and understand social cues. This helps them build meaningful connections with others and navigate social situations more effectively.

Sensory Processing: Many children with autism may experience challenges in sensory processing. Play activities in occupational therapy are designed to address sensory integration issues by exposing children to various textures, sounds, and movements in a controlled setting. This helps them regulate their sensory experiences, leading to improved attention, focus, and overall sensory processing abilities.

Fine and Gross Motor Skills Development: Play-based interventions in occupational therapy target the development of both fine and gross motor skills. Engaging in play activities such as drawing, cutting, climbing, and swinging helps children with autism enhance their coordination, balance, and muscle strength. These improved motor skills contribute to increased independence in daily activities and participation in various environments.


Try these 6 play-based activities at home and find out which one(s) work best for your family:


1. Sensory Play: Engage your child's senses with sensory play activities. 
Example: Fill a bin with rice, beans, or sand and hide small toys for them to discover. This tactile experience not only enhances sensory processing but also encourages exploration and discovery.

2. Pretend Play: Encourage imaginative play by setting up scenarios that spark creativity. 
Example: Create a mini kitchen or a doctor's office, allowing your child to take on different roles. Pretend play promotes social skills, communication, and problem-solving.

3. Fine Motor Fun: These activities enhance hand-eye coordination, finger strength, and precision – essential skills for various daily tasks/ 
Example: Boost fine motor skills through playful activities like stringing beads, tearing paper, or using playdough. 

4. Movement Games: not only improve coordination but also provide an outlet for excess energy, promoting focus and attention. 
Example: Incorporate movement into play with activities like Simon Says, obstacle courses, or dancing to favorite tunes. 

5. Puzzle Power: Puzzles are excellent for cognitive development. 
Example: Choose puzzles that match your child's skill level and gradually increase complexity. Solving puzzles enhances problem-solving abilities, concentration, and spatial awareness.

6. Artistic Expression: Unleash your child's creativity through art activities. 
Example: Provide a variety of art supplies for drawing, painting, or crafting. Artistic expression not only fosters creativity but also serves as a valuable outlet for emotional expression.


Play is a dynamic force that transforms routine activities into opportunities for growth. By infusing play into your child's routine, you are not only making occupational therapy enjoyable but also paving the way for them to acquire essential skills. Remember, the journey of unlocking potential begins with a playful heart and a willingness to explore the therapeutic magic that lies within each joyful moment. Here is to a world where play becomes a powerful catalyst for your child's progress and happiness.


Contact our Family Support Team if you would like to learn how to get started with Occupational Therapy or any other programs and services that we offer. Our Family Support Team is always available to help and is available at no charge to all members of the autism and developmental disability community. Schedule a free phone appointment that works with your schedule:




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