31 Fun Summer Activities for Kids with Autism

summer Activities for Kids with Autism

Summer provides a great opportunity for autistic children to continue developing important skills in a more relaxed setting outside of school. The break from academics allows children to focus on strengthening social skills, physical abilities, life skills, and special interests through fun summer programming.

Some key benefits of summer activities for autistic kids include:

  • Social Skills Development – Summer camps and classes can provide a safe space for autistic children to practice communicating, cooperating, and socializing with peers. With more time and less academic pressure, kids can work on making friends and interacting appropriately in groups.

  • Trying New Things – Summer offers a chance to gently push kids out of their comfort zones to attempt new hobbies and activities in a supportive environment. Whether learning to swim or creating art, new experiences help build confidence.

  • Outdoor Physical Activity – Being active outdoors is beneficial for all kids, especially those on the spectrum. Nature walks, playground time, sports, and outdoor games can improve motor skills and provide sensory stimulation.

  • Exploring Special Interests – Camps or classes focused on a child’s unique interests, like space, animals, or music, allow them to gain knowledge and skills related to their passions. This helps enrich their talents and strengths.

  • Learning Life Skills – Summer programming may work on important abilities like following instructions, taking turns, preparing food, and managing behavior that leads to greater independence.

The relaxed nature of summertime coupled with focused programming tailored to an autistic child’s needs can help them flourish socially, physically, and emotionally.


Considerations When Choosing Activities

When selecting summer activities for an autistic child, it’s important to consider the child’s unique needs, abilities, interests, and challenges. This will help ensure the activities are engaging, fun, and beneficial for the child.

1. Child’s Specific Needs and Abilities

Take into account the child’s skills, developmental level, communication abilities, and support needs. Some children may require one-on-one assistance while others can participate independently alongside peers. Understand the child’s strengths so you can choose activities that allow them to experience success.

2. Interests

Choose activities that align with the specific topics or hobbies the child enjoys. For example, if the child loves trains, look for a train museum or railroad-themed classes. Basing activities around their interests will help motivate participation and engagement.

3. Sensory Issues

Many autistic children have sensory sensitivities that can make certain environments challenging. Consider noise levels, crowds, lighting, textures, and other sensory stimuli the activity may involve. Look for sensory-friendly options or ways to adapt activities to accommodate the child’s needs.

4. Routine and Structure

Consistency, routine, and structure are important for many autistic children. When possible, maintain therapeutic schedules and choose activities that have clear start and end times. Prepare the child for changes in routine that summer activities may require.

5. Transitions

Switching activities and environments can be difficult. Ease transitions by showing pictures, social stories, or schedules that outline what to expect. Build in extra time and take breaks as needed. Use visual supports like picture schedules. Practice flexibility while maintaining structure.


Social Skills Classes or Camps

Free Summer Camps for Autism in USA

Summer is a great time for autistic children to work on social skills in a fun, engaging environment through classes or camps. These programs provide a supportive setting to practice skills like communication, making friends, and interacting through activities children enjoy.

Theater and Drama

Acting or improv classes can aid autistic children with reading social cues, body language, tone of voice, and taking on different perspectives. Drama builds confidence as children play various roles. Camps and classes also promote teamwork, focus, and self-expression.

Arts and Crafts

The creative arts develop motor skills, visual processing, and imagination. Arts and crafts classes teach sharing, cooperation, and flexibility through hands-on projects. Children learn to follow step-by-step instructions while expressing themselves. They also practice conversation during the creative process.

Sports Skills

Sports camps build physical coordination while teaching teamwork and sportsmanship. Children learn how to follow rules, take turns, communicate with coaches and teammates, and handle winning and losing. Popular options are soccer, basketball, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and more.

Communication Skills

Specialized camps help autistic children engage in back-and-forth conversation, read body language and facial expressions, and improve listening skills. Lessons often incorporate role-playing, games, and exercises to practice introducing oneself, asking questions, and building rapport.

Making Friends

Many social skills camps help facilitate friendships in a relaxed environment. Children learn how to approach others, initiate play, join group activities, handle conflicts, and develop meaningful connections. Trained counselors guide children through social situations and provide feedback. Campers often make lasting friendships.


Outdoor Activities

summer activities for autism

The outdoors offers a wide range of activities that can benefit autistic children during the summer months. Being outside in nature provides sensory stimulation, which can have a calming effect. Outdoor activities also encourage physical activity and exploration.


Going on hikes allows children to explore new environments. Start with short, easy hikes and work up to more challenging trails. Being surrounded by nature and away from overstimulating environments can have therapeutic benefits. Hiking is a great way to take a break from screens and technology.


Swimming is an ideal summer activity. The water provides sensory input, which many autistic children find calming. Swimming works on building strength and coordination in a low-impact way. Public pools offer opportunities for structured swim lessons or free play. Natural bodies of water allow kids to explore and be creative. Always ensure proper supervision for safety near water.

Exploring Nature

Nature walks, setting up ant farms, birdwatching, and stargazing are ways to explore the natural world. These quiet, sensory-rich experiences can fascinate autistic children. Exploring nature encourages curiosity, imagination, and appreciation for the environment.


Gardening allows kids to get hands-on experience with nature. Planting seeds, watering plants, and watching them grow teaches responsibility. The textures and smells of soil, leaves, flowers, and vegetables provide sensory stimulation. Starting an herb or vegetable garden lets kids try foods they helped cultivate.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts in nature combine physical activity with sensory exploration. Create lists of items to find, like pinecones, feathers, acorns, flowers, etc. This encourages children to closely observe their surroundings. Adjust difficulty by providing more or less specific items. For nonverbal kids, take pictures of items to locate. End with a rewarding treat found at the end of the hunt.


Physical Activities

Kids Activities That Will Keep Them entertained-compressed

Physical activities provide great opportunities for autistic children to improve motor skills, coordination, balance, and fitness. Popular summer options include:


Swimming is an ideal physical activity for autistic children. The water provides soothing sensory input, and swimming builds strength, endurance, and coordination. Lessons allow kids to learn essential water safety skills. Look for instructors experienced in teaching special needs children. Use flotation devices and remain within arm’s reach of the child until swimming proficiently.

Sports Camps

Sports camps help autistic kids engage in physical activity while learning teamwork and sportsmanship. Opt for a small camp size with reduced stimuli. Inform instructors about the child’s abilities and challenges beforehand. Camps for soccer, basketball, baseball, and other sports provide great exercise along with opportunities to practice social interaction.


Yoga combines physical activity with techniques for emotional regulation, calming, and body awareness. Look for adaptive yoga classes using visual supports and sensory tools. Yoga helps autistic kids improve balance, coordination, focus, and self-regulation. The meditative aspects also reduce anxiety. Classes often build social skills too.


Dance is a wonderful way for autistic children to stay active while learning rhythm, body control, and self-expression. The structure and repetition of dance build confidence and skills. Look for dance classes experienced with special needs students and provide individual attention. Tap, ballet, hip-hop, and creative movement all have benefits. Allow the child’s interests to guide dance style selection.


Creative Activities

Navigating School with Communication Difficulties

Creative activities like arts and crafts, music, theater, and cooking can provide wonderful opportunities for autistic children to express themselves during the summer. These activities tap into different modalities and strengths that allow a child’s unique skills and talents to shine.

Arts and Crafts

Doing arts and crafts allows kids to experiment with visual creativity. Simple crafts like painting, coloring, play dough sculptures, and DIY projects allow for open-ended creation and sensory exploration. For some autistic kids who think and process visually, arts and crafts can be a preferred way to relax, focus, and express emotions. Supplies like paper, crayons, paint, glue, glitter, beads, and more can be endlessly combined into unique art pieces. Crafts can also make great homemade gifts for loved ones.


Music activities let children experiment with sound, rhythm, and self-expression. Kids may enjoy singing, listening to music, playing simple instruments, or expressing themselves through movement and dance. Music therapy is also commonly used with autistic children and can build communication, social, motor, and emotional skills. At home, children can make their instruments or noisemakers with household items, form a family band, create songs or rhythms, or put on music-filled performances.


Theater activities allow autistic kids to learn vital social skills like eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and interpreting others’ emotions. Pretend play builds imagination, creativity, and role-playing abilities. Rehearsing and performing builds confidence and self-esteem. Families can put on plays or talent shows at home, design costumes and props, build sets from cardboard boxes or furniture, and help kids practice lines. Theater games that involve imitation, improvisation, and pantomime are also great creative outlets.


Cooking is a multisensory activity that engages math skills, reading comprehension, fine motor skills, and following step-by-step directions. Kids can practice kitchen safety, food preparation, and measuring ingredients. Making no-bake snacks or recipes with visual aids can set autistic kids up for success. Cooking together fosters bonding, conversation, patience, and pride in creating something delicious to share. It also encourages trying new foods and flavors in a hands-on way. Kids can help shop for ingredients, decorate finished treats, and come up with their recipes.


Skill-Building Programs

Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Hearing Loss

Skill-building programs can provide great opportunities for autistic children to develop important abilities during the summer months. These programs are often offered through community organizations, schools, or autism support centers. The skills gained can have lifelong benefits.

Some key areas that summer skill-building programs may focus on include:

Communication Skills

Programs to improve communication skills help autistic children practice speaking, listening, nonverbal cues, and social interaction. This may involve speech therapy, role-playing, learning conversation skills, using communication devices/apps, reading facial expressions, and more. Improved communication boosts confidence and independence.

Job Skills

For older autistic teens, programs on job skills like interview practice, workplace etiquette, vocational training, and internships can help prepare them for future employment. Learning how to find and keep a job is crucial for the transition to adulthood.

Life Skills

Important life skills like cooking, cleaning, shopping, using public transportation, managing money, and more can be taught through summer programs. Mastering these practical skills allows for greater autonomy.

Social Skills

Making friends and interacting with peers can be difficult for autistic youth. Social skills training focuses on building interpersonal abilities, working collaboratively, initiating conversations, taking turns, sharing, good sportsmanship, and reading social cues. This helps improve relationships.

Skill-building programs require commitment but give autistic children the tools to thrive in school, careers, and life. The summer provides extra time to hone these vital skills. With support and practice, autistic youth can gain confidence in communicating, working, living independently, and connecting with others.


Day Trips

Field Trips for Special Needs Students

Day trips to places like museums, amusement parks, zoos, and libraries can provide engaging summer activities for autistic children. These types of outings allow kids to explore new environments, learn, and have fun in the community.


Many museums offer sensory-friendly days or times for children with autism. These provide a calmer environment with less crowds and noise. Often the lighting and music are adjusted to be soothing. There may even be special exhibits or programs tailored for autistic kids. History, science, and children’s museums can all inspire learning through hands-on interaction.

Amusement Parks

Theme parks provide exciting rides and entertainment while offering accommodations like boarding passes to reduce waiting in long lines. The rides, lights, and sounds can be overwhelming for some children, so prepare them for the experience and have a plan if they need to take a break in a quiet area. Focus on enjoying activities they find fun at their own pace.


Watching and learning about animals can be very engaging for autistic kids. Zoos allow them to observe wildlife closely while getting exercise walking around the exhibits. Some zoos designate quiet areas without loud crowds. Be mindful of noises that may startle children, like animal roars. Discuss expectations and rules ahead of time so they act properly around the animals.


Libraries often host summer reading activities tailored for kids with special needs. They provide air-conditioned spaces to relax, read books, use computers, and join programs. Librarians can recommend books and media on topics of interest to autistic children. Libraries may allow kids to bring along comfort objects or fidget items to help them focus during story times or crafts. Just confirm the rules ahead of time.


At-Home Activities

Can a Special Needs Child be Home-schooled 1

At-home activities provide a comfortable and familiar environment for autistic children to engage in fun learning experiences over the summer. Focusing on activities that build life skills, social skills, and academics can help prevent summer learning loss. Here are some great at-home summer activity ideas:


Reading with your child allows you to bond while building vocabulary and literacy skills. Let your child select books that interest them and take turns reading aloud together. Discuss what you’ve read to build comprehension. Visit the library regularly to check out new titles.


Puzzles build visual-spatial skills, fine motor skills, problem-solving, and patience. Start with simpler puzzles of your child’s favorite characters, animals, or objects, then work up to more challenging puzzles. Encourage your child to assemble the border first. Praise their effort and perseverance in completing puzzles.

Science Experiments

Conducting science experiments sparks curiosity about how the world works. Simple experiments like making playdough, erupting volcanoes with baking soda and vinegar, or growing beans in plastic bags allow kids to observe changes and make predictions. Talk through each step and let your child take the lead.


Cooking teaches math skills like measurement and sequencing steps. It also builds confidence. Have your child help gather ingredients and follow the recipe steps. Let them mix, pour, stir, and decorate. Make healthy snacks and meals together. Supervise for safety around hot stoves or ovens.


Gardening gets kids outdoors and active while teaching responsibility. Let your child pick flowers and easy vegetables to grow like carrots, beans, or tomatoes. Show them how to plant seeds, water, and care for the plants. Weed and dig together. Display your child’s harvest in a vase or use ingredients picked from your garden to cook a meal.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *