Guide to Autism Games
Kids with autism play differently than neurotypical kids. This can lead to fewer chances to practice their social skills with others their age. Playing is important for developing social skills, so board games and card games are good ways to give kids with ASD more opportunities to practice their social skills while having fun with friends and family. We’ve collected the best autism games below for you to try with your kiddo!
Table of Contents
How to Choose the Best Games for Autism
We chose the following games for a number of reasons:
- You can adapt each game to the needs of the children, friends and family who are playing them. Some may require a bit more creativity and “bending of rules,” but that’s part of the fun of play! The only necessary rules are the ones that your family chooses to follow.
- We also wanted to include games you can play with more than two people whenever possible. Although there aren’t as many options for more than 4 players, we tried to include as many as we could that would be able to accommodate larger families.
- The vast majority of these games do not require long periods of time and attention. Although there are a few that may take longer, you can play most in under 30 minutes (and sometimes considerably less).
- All of these games help strengthen essential skills that many autistic children (and many neurotypical children!) lack. These games teach kids to take turns, cooperate, tolerate frustration, and problem-solve and even fine motor skills.
- They’re fun!
However, it is important to note that not every game will be appropriate for every child. Like with all kids, we recommend taking into consideration your child’s developmental stage and interests above and beyond most other factors. Additionally, we recommend playing these games alongside your child, so you’re able to help adapt and guide gameplay as needed.
Best Games for Children Ages 3-5+
All of these games for autism are great for kids ages 3-5 (and up). This means that some of the games may have small parts that could be a choking hazard, so if your child is at a stage where they may still be putting things into their mouths, they may not be appropriate at this time.
Each game includes the number of players needed to play as well as the manufacturer-recommended minimum age to play. Keep in mind that the recommended minimum age may or may not be right for your child. Many kids will still need supervision and assistance with gameplay, so if you’re not playing these games with them, stay close to help guide play. As an added bonus, none of these games for autism require reading skills!
- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel: 2-4 players/ages 3+ (Family Strategy)
- Sequence for Kids: 2-4 players/ages 3+ (Abstract Strategy Board-and-Card)
- Hi Ho Cherry-O: 2-3 players/ages 3+ (Educational Board)
- Goally Graffiti Street: Solo Play App
- Ladybug’s Garden: 1-2 players/ages 3+ (Memory and Matching Board)
- The Ladybug Game: 2-4 players/ages 3+ (Family Board)
- Pete the Cat: 2-4 players/ages 3+ (Family Strategy Board-and-Card)
- Candy Land: 2-4 players/ages 3+ (Family Educational Board)
- Thin Ice: 2-4 players/age 5+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Baby Dinosaur Rescue: 2-4 players/Ages 4+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Shopkins Supermarket Scramble: 2-4 players/ages 5+ (Family Board)
- Pengoloo: 2-4 players/ages 4+ (Memory and Matching Board)
- Funny Bunny: 2-4 players/ages 4+ (Family Strategy)
- Hungry Hungry Hippos: 2-4 players/ages 4+ (Family)
- Eye Found It: 1-6 players/ages 4+ (Family Board)
- Chutes and Ladders: 2-4 players/ages 4+ (Family Board)
- Enchanted Forest: 2-6 players/ages 4+ (Family Board)
Best Games for Kids Ages 6+
The following games can be a lot of fun for kids with autism ages 6 and up. Like the games recommended above, however, many have small parts that could be a choking hazard, so, again, if your child is oral sensory seeking, they may not be appropriate at the moment. And, like with our suggested games for younger kids, we still recommend that if you aren’t playing these games alongside your child, you should stay close enough to supervise and guide as needed to avoid unnecessary frustration.
- Chess: 2 players/ages 6+ (Strategy Board)
- Mousetrap: 2-4 players/ages 6+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Qwirkle: 2-4 players/ages 6+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Chinese Checkers: 2-6 players/ages 7+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Battle Sheep: 2-4 players/ages 7+ (Family Strategy Board)
- Uno: 2-4 players/ages 7+ (Family Strategy Card)
- King of Tokyo: 2-6 players/ages 8+ (Family Board)
- SushiGo!: 2-5 players/ages 8+ (Family Card)
- Battleship: 2 players/ages 8+ (Strategy Board)
- Tsuro: 2-8 players/ages 8+ (Family Tile Laying)
- Roll for It: 2-4 players/ages 8+ (Family Card and Dice)
- Mastermind: 2 players/age 8+ (Strategy Board)
- Pictopia: 2-6 players/ages 7+ (Family Board Trivia)
- PicWits!: 2-10 players/ages 10+ (Family Party)
- Forbidden Island: 2-4 players/ages 10+ (Family Cooperative Board)
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Games for ASD
If the first game you choose doesn’t go over as well as you had hoped, never fear! There are so many types of tabletop and board games for autism that if at first you don’t succeed, odds are that if you try again, you’ll eventually find one that works for your child and family. And if, after trying several styles of games, your child seems drawn to a certain style of gameplay, don’t be afraid to look for more of the same type of game!
Some children may prefer two-person strategy games like Battleship or adaptive versions of chess. Others may only want to play card games or short-but-sweet games like Thin Ice and Candy Land. This is why we chose to add basic game style information to each option on our list; to make it easier to come back and look for additional, similar games in the future.
Goally | Apps for Kids with Autism
Looking for games to support your child’s development, without you having to supervise them? Try Goally! Our suite of apps teaches kids skills they need to be independent with FUN gamified exercises. Kids learn core words in our word lab app, finger dexterity in our balloons app, and executive functioning skills with our visual scheduler. And that’s just the beginning of how Goally can spur your child’s learning! Try Goallys apps on any device starting at just $9 a month, or on our dedicated device for $149!
Final Thoughts on Games for Autism
Most children’s psychologists and therapists consider play to be the “work of childhood.” Finding new, fun ways for children with autism to play and connect with others, whether friends or family, is one of the most beneficial things parents can do. Plus, table and board games allow moms, dads and siblings to connect with one another, strengthen family bonds, and create lasting traditions to remember for many years to come.
This post was originally published on 08/03/2022. It was updated on 11/22/2023.