Fun, Engaging Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child — Carolyn Saunders (2023)

Written By Carolyn Saunders

Fun, Engaging Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child — Carolyn Saunders (1)

As parents, you already know that play is an important part of childhood. Just watching our kids in the world we see how use most moments as an opportunity to play. The truth is, play is critical for children’s development, especially for our neurodiverse children.

The difference for children with autism is that the way in which they play might need to be adapted to accommodate their specific sensory needs and motivations. Especially nonverbal children, who are not able to communicate their likes and dislikes using spoken words.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of fun, engaging activities for your nonverbal neurodiverse child. But before we dive into the specific activities, let’s talk about an important piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked:

Play leads to connection; connection leads to a stronger relationship between you and your child. Some parents I work with come to me looking to rebuild their relationship with their child. They feel disconnected and want to build rapport again (or maybe for the first time). While this can be such a frustrating struggle, activities and play can be an easy way to begin.

The key to creating this connection is to engage in play in a way that your child really enjoys. We may have ideas of what “fun” is, but our child may not agree. If you want to spend more quality time with your child, first consider what they love to do and then find a way for you to join in.

If you’re looking for activity ideas, I’ve got you with this list:

Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Toddler

Sensory Activities

Our neurodiverse kids often love to engage with activities using the sense of touch. For example, shaving cream play can be a wonderful option for toddlers. It’s squishy, slippery, and can incorporate lots of color for visual stimuli.

Water Play

A water table can be an endless source of fun, creative thinking, and sensory play. If the weather is warm, it’s an option most little kids love. In the colder months, consider bringing it into an indoor play space and using it as a sensory bin without water.


Bubbles are a delight for any child. With each bubble unique in it’s size and shape, it’s a new discovery every time. I especially like the giant bubble kits that make extraordinary bubbles.

Obstacle Courses

For our kids who love to climb and crawl and move their bodies, homemade obstacle courses are the best! Use pillows, blankets, chairs and tunnels to make fun spaces to explore in your home.

Science Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child

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Kinetic Sand

Kinesthetic learning is fun and engaging and provides for endless play opportunities. When our kids manipulate things with their hands, they are not only fulfilling a sensory need but also opening up a way to learn about colors, shapes, building, etc.


This is an Old Faithful activity for a reason. Part creative, part engineering, a play session with Playdoh is a hit with so many ages. I like to call Playdoh the gateway to unlimited learning opportunities because every play session can be different.

Science Experiments

For our kids who love to figure out how things work and build things with their hands, science experiments are a really good option. Whether you buy science kits or look up simple activities you can do with houseold items, your child can learn so much and will be delighted in their accomplishments. There’s nothing quite like making a chemical reaction happen right in front of your eyes!

Stomp Rockets

So many interactive toys have a science lesson built in. Stomp Rockets, for instance, are a real-time physics activity that is a LOT of fun. Science lessons plus sensory play for the win!

Virtual Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child

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E-Book Storytime

We know that reading to your child early and often has a remarkable impact on their language and literacy skills. For nonverbal children, this is still true. While they may not speak the words outloud, reading together is still a time to bond and a way for them to learn language skills. Digital readers can offer so much variety with many options for free book downloads.

ABC Mouse

One of the best online learning programs for kids is ABCMouse. It’s full of games that are built to teach children about letters and numbers. Their free and low-cost options for younger kids is a great option and as your children get older they offer more advanced learning with with their Adventure Academy. For nonverbal autistic children computer-based learning programs can be a helpful way to encourage their learning during solo play.

School District

Many school districts have free programs that you can access with your child’s login and password. Start with the district website or your child’s digital portal.


Video calls with family and friends can be a great way to practice nonverbal greetings and maintain connections with important people in your child’s life. Simply allowing your child to play with something like Playdoh and share their creations on Facetime is an easy option.

Social Skills Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child

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Park Time

One of the best ways to encourage social interaction for your child is to take their favorite activity to the park. Stomp Rockets, bubbles, sidewalk chalk are all fun activites to play with new friends.

Physical Play

Familiar games like tag, red light green light, Mr. Wolf, or Simon Says can be modified for nonverbal children. Try using visual tools like colored card or word cards so everyone can easily communicate. Games like these encourage social interaction and fairplay for a variety of ages.

Shareable Toys

Sharing is a key social skills that children have to learn and navigate as they develop. Bringing sharable toys to the park, beeach, or pool can be an easy place to start. Toy trucks, dolls, shovels, and buckets are all great options for outdoor shared play.

Indoor Playdates

Whether it’s at your home or your child’s friend’s home, playdates that include sharable toys are especially helpful in developing social skills. Pokeman cards, Beyblades, and other trading cards are a good example of toys with multiple parts that are easy to share.

Fun & Play Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child

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Favorite Things

The best play dates often incorporate your child’s favorite things. In my house this is Hot Wheels! Allow your child to lead when it comes to play. Get curious about what they love and give them lots of options to interact with those things.

Scooters & Bikes

Scooters, bikes, and balance bikes are great sensory physical play options. Use this as a time to interact with your child by creating courses or playing stop-and-go games.

Physical Fun

Sometimes the best options are the simplest. Tickling, airplane ripes, freeze tag, hide-and-seek are classics for a reason. While they may not be right for every kid, you’ll know which ones will delight your child and lead to fun connection time.

Kitchen Fun

Cooking, baking, and general kitchen science experiments are other ways for you to connect with your child while meeting their sensory needs AND activating their development. Depending on their age and experience, they can help with stirring, measuring, simple chopping, and on/off buttons. Creating a favorite dish can be such a fun bonding experience.

Fun, Engaging Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child — Carolyn Saunders (7)

3 Key Strategies

No matter what activities you choose to introduce to your neurodiverse child, keep these three key strategies in mind:

1. Get curious about what your kid gravitates towards. Let them guide you to the play they like the best.

2. Get involved with play and activities as a way to maintain connection with your child.

3. Remember that many classic games can be modified for nonverbal children so they can interact with other children in familiar ways.

As always, I offer these ideas from my own playbook, knowing that every child is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all answers. Take what you need and leave the rest behind. Above all, remember that you are not alone.

**If you’re feeling overwhelmed and look for a personal approach to helping your neurodivergent child manage challenging behavior, gain more life skills, or improve their communication, I’ve got you. I would love to get to know a bit about you and your family. Schedule a Discovery Call and we’ll see if parenting coaching is a good match for you.

Have you downloaded my free guide yet? More Listening, Please: 5 Tools to Help Your Neurodiverse Child Listen is for every parent who wants to help their children become better listeners. Because more cooperation and listening = a more peaceful home.

Fun, Engaging Activities for Your Nonverbal Autistic Child — Carolyn Saunders (8)

More resources on the blog:


Will My Nonverbal Autistic Child Ever Speak?

For Parents and CaregiversAutism

Carolyn Saunders

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