Science Activities for the Autistic Child

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Some science activities can be over-stimulating for children with autism. Science involves a lot of noises, textures, messy experiment and group activities that some children with autism might have trouble handling. You can pursue many mess-free, calming activities with your child to teach him about different science concepts while being sensitive to his needs.

Space Pudding

This activity can be done when teaching your child about outer space. After introducing the idea that astronauts need to eat differently in space because of the lack of gravity, help your child make space pudding. Have him pour half a box of instant pudding into a plastic self-sealing bag. Add half the portion of milk required to make the box of pudding and seal the bag. Encourage your child to squeeze and squish the bag to mix the pudding while allowing your child to experiment with a sensory experience. Once it is mixed, your child can cut the corner of the bag and eat the pudding through the hole.

Paint with Ice

Painting with ice provides children with autism a science lesson on the states of matter. For this activity, you will need liquid tempera paint, an ice cube tray, craft sticks, plastic wrap and paper. Help your child pour different colors of paint into the ice cube tray. If your child has an aversion to tactile experiences, cover the tray in plastic wrap and have him place a craft stick in each cube to make a handle. Allow the paint to sit in the freezer overnight. After the paint is frozen, have your child hold the craft sticks and move the paint cubes across the paper. As he paints, discuss how the paint was first a liquid, then froze to become a solid and is now melting back into a liquid.

Liquid Fireworks

By using an empty bottle or jar, baby or vegetable oil, food coloring and water, this activity can help you teach your child about density and the properties of liquids. Start by having your child fill the bottle or jar almost to the top with water. Next, help him pour a tablespoon of oil into the small container and add a few drops of different-colored food coloring. Allow your child to mix the food coloring and oil together and pour the mixture into the bottle of water. Because oil is less dense than water, it will stay at the top of the jar while the food coloring will start to separate and sink because it is made of mostly water. As the food coloring dissolves, the effect will look like fireworks.

Sense of Smell Activity

Your child can experiment with and learn about the sense of smell through this simple activity. It also encourages social interaction, an area which most children with autism struggle with. Get started by asking your child to come up with a list of his favorite smells. Help him find items that carry some of his favorite smells to use in his smelling station. Provide your child with several small, opaque containers, and have him put a small amount of each item inside. Next, help your child cover the containers with small pieces of fabric, secure them with a rubber band and poke small holes in the fabric. While covering the containers, he should make an answer key to which items are in each container. Once the smelling station is ready, your child can challenge family and friends to guess what smell is in which container.