Cooperation skills build the foundation of a happy life. Children on the spectrum, who acquire several important skills such as sharing, turn taking and following instructions, will have a much better chance at succeeding in school, in relationships, in group-projects/group-play and other extra-curricular activities. A great way to teach cooperation to children that have been diagnosed with autism is through fun; engaging activities while at home, in school or out in the community. Here are some activities that are sure to help teach your child on the spectrum how to cooperate, while still having fun!
To start off it is important to create rules so that you can properly teach your child to wait, take turns, and follow directions. Some great ways to do this is through activities such as cooking, gardening, and Art. Here, we break down the importance of each activity to further help you understand why they help children on the spectrum learn to cooperate.
- Cooking – By turning cooking into a small group or family activity you are able to divide the work and have your child practice skills such as measuring flour or water, counting the correct amount of eggs, pouring liquids, stirring etc. Start off by showing them a written or pictorial recipe and work with them step by step to complete it. By cooking dinner, or baking cookies your child will learn to follow directions, wait their turn and share the responsibility of creating part of a meal that they can enjoy later.
- Gardening – Children can be given individual responsibilities while gardening with their parents, siblings or peers. From potting seeds, planting flowers, digging holes and watering, gardening can provide the opportunity for continued cooperation for weeks to come. It is not only a one time project, but a continuous responsibility to make sure the flowers are growing, getting enough water and sunlight, and to make sure there are no weeds growing etc.
- Art – Working on a group art project, such as a collage is also a great way to build cooperation skills. It will allow your child to be assigned a task, such as cutting pictures out of magazines or gluing pictures down on poster board and take turns picking what pictures they want to incorporate into the collage and where they want to place them.
Role playing is also a great way to teach your child, that has been diagnosed with autism, cooperation skills and helps then learn to discuss good choices. Role play can incorporate many different subjects, situations, and conflicts. Decide what you feel your child is struggling with and use role play exercises to help guide them through it, and to figure out the best possible outcome. Reenacting situations and discussing alternative responses will help your child on the spectrum become more cooperative at home, in school and while in social situations.
Lastly it is important to provide your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, the opportunity to practice these skills on their own. Some great ways to do this is to:
- Assign your child chores, such as
- Laundry (separating lights from darks and discussing what items of clothing go in what pile)
- Putting the groceries away (What goes in the refrigerator? What goes in the freezer? Ask them to create a plan of where things should be put away to keep the refrigerator and freezer organized).
- Playing games is also a great way to practice cooperation skills. Many games naturally lend themselves to determining teams, resolving conflicts, and being cooperative. When you encourage your child to play games and discuss the issues that come up, you allow them to practice the cooperation skills that have acquired. Some great games for this task are:
- A scavenger hunt – this is a fun activity that requires collaboration and problem solving, and possibly breaking up into small groups and working together.
- Board games and card games – can also often be made into team games that require team strategies and cooperation.
Teaching your child the proper cooperation skills will allow them to build stronger relationships, have more social interactions and thrive better in society. Take the time to help your child on the spectrum learn the proper ways to cooperate and watch them obtain the social skills needed to live a fulfilling life and reach their fullest potential.