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What are the Different Types of Therapeutic Asperger's Activities?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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There are many different types of therapeutic Asperger's activities, and what activities will be therapeutic for each person differs. People with Asperger's syndrome tend to have special strengths on which they find it particularly easy to focus. They may also have obsessions, which makes it difficult to convince them to engage in activities that do not fit their strengths. Some activities may be considered therapeutic because they help people with Asperger's build on their strengths, and others may be considered therapeutic because they help those people improve on their weaknesses. Either way, the goal of therapeutic Asperger's activities should always be to improve both the person's quality of life and his or her ability to function in society as a whole.

Asperger's activities often take the form of games, particularly when participants are children. Many common games that involve recognizing faces or taking turns can be beneficial for children with Asperger's. Often, using a topic that the child enjoys talking about to demonstrate appropriate conversational techniques can be helpful in building communication skills. Conversation games can also be used to help the child understand more complex aspects of discourse, such as sarcasm, or how to recognize when a conversation is over.

Many children with Asperger's have diminished spatial skills, so puzzles and building block games often make good therapeutic Asperger's activities. To help maintain interest in these activities, it can be helpful to combine them with topics in which the child is interested. In order to keep the activity running smoothly, it may be necessary to set up a rewards system.

One of the most often overlooked types of Asperger's activities is physical exercise. People with Asperger's syndrome, both young and old, often benefit from physical activities because they help them blow off steam. Special repetitive exercises, such as swinging or jumping on a trampoline, are often highly enjoyable. To minimize complications, it is best to stick to games that do not require verbal communication or imagination.

A therapist should be able to suggest activities specifically tailored to the needs of the individual with Asperger's syndrome. It may also be helpful to simply indulge a person with Asperger's and his or her friendships and see what social games evolve naturally. Activities that involve interaction with more than one person can be extremely useful for people with Asperger's syndrome who are in need of improved social skills. These social activities that involve cooperation can be stepping stones toward better integration with the general population.

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Discussion Comments

By julies — On Mar 20, 2012

I have not been around many people who have autism, but one of my co-workers has a girl who has Asperger's syndrome.

This can be very stressful and draining for my co-worker who is a single parent with two other kids.

When she sees her daughter getting very frustrated about not being able to effectively communicate, she will try to get her involved in some kind of physical activity.

This is usually something simple that gets her up and moving. This usually doesn't involve interaction with anybody else because that only causes more aggravation.

If she can have a few minutes of physical exercise where she doesn't have to interact, she usually calms down and is easier to deal with.

By SarahSon — On Mar 19, 2012

My nephew has Asperberger's and I must admit, I have found it challenging to carry on a conversation with him. He isn't very interested in being social, and you get the feeling that he really doesn't care.

I know this isn't the way he really feels, but that is how he often acts. One thing I have really noticed is he is confused by sarcasm.

The times I have tried to joke with him or be sarcastic to get a smile or laugh from him has never worked. His brain has a hard time understanding the concept of being sarcastic, and he doesn't know if it is funny or real.

He can also become very fixated on one thing and keeps persisting until he gets his way. It doesn't matter how inconvenient or trivial this is for someone else, he can't get it out of his mind.

One of the hardest parts about this is the friction it causes among the other siblings. It takes a very loving and supportive family to continually work with these kids on a day to day basis.

By Mykol — On Mar 18, 2012

@myharley - I work in the special education department at our local school, and a good support system for these families who are dealing with Asperger's is crucial.

Everybody has encountered awkward social situations, but for those who are struggling with Asperger's, these situations are an everyday part of their lives.

We might not understand all the reasons for the symptoms, but each child I have worked with has potential. Each child has their own strengths and weaknesses, and a way of learning that works better for them than others.

Part of my job is to find the best way to teach each individual child. There are a lot of challenging days, but when you get a break-through, it can also be very rewarding.

Because Ausperger's can be so hard to understand, it is hard for many people to know the best way to interact with them. For some people the easiest way to deal with it is to just avoid talking to them, but this usually leads to more misunderstanding and hard feelings.

By myharley — On Mar 17, 2012

One of my best friends has a boy who was diagnosed with Asperger's. She was told this was on the high functioning side of the autism spectrum. Autism is very complex, and even though this was labeled as high functioning, it still has its challenges.

This can be a difficult thing to try to figure out and deal with. It affects everyone in the family, and many outside the family who interact with them on a regular basis.

Fortunately they are in a school system that has good support for kids who are struggling with issues like this. I think building a good support system is just as helpful for the parents as it is for the child.

I know in many rural areas, they don't have as many options for kids, and they continue to struggle without getting much help.

By OeKc05 — On Mar 17, 2012

My teenage cousin has Asperger's, and he is an exceptional artist. His mother discovered that he could draw very well when he was only twelve, and she encouraged him in that area.

She bought him all the supplies he needed, and he often holes himself up in his room and draws or paints for hours. Many of his subjects come out of his head, and he can fashion fairy-tale creatures just from his imagination.

He seems at ease when he is drawing. It calms him down and is a good outlet for him. Whenever he gets agitated, she suggests that he go draw something, and it usually works.

By cloudel — On Mar 16, 2012

@wavy58 – I have heard that shooting hoops is therapeutic for children with Asperger's syndrome, but I'm guessing your neighbor probably doesn't own a goal and ball. In that case, it is time to get creative.

Throwing any object through a type of hole can give a child a sense of accomplishment, and she can do this over and over, even keeping score if she desires. You just have to use a bit of imagination when constructing the game.

Her mother could make a loop by twisting a vine and tying it to a tree, if she has a yard with plants. The child could then throw just about anything through it, whether it is a pine cone or a pecan.

If no trees are available, she could dig a hole in the ground and encourage the child to toss or hit a ball into it. I used to roll apples into a hole by hitting them with a stick, so the options are limitless.

By wavy58 — On Mar 16, 2012

My neighbor's daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's last year, and she is having trouble dealing with her. They are kind of poor, so she can't afford to take her to therapy.

She doesn't have a trampoline or a swingset, but I know there has to be some sort of physical activity that would help this child release some extra energy and frustration. Does anyone have any ideas of something that someone with little resources could do to help their child in this area? All I can think of is taking her walking, but that just isn't repetitive enough and doesn't expend enough energy.

By lighth0se33 — On Mar 15, 2012

My friend's son has Asperger's, and I used to come over and participate in board games with them. My friend thought it would be good for teaching him appropriate behavior, like waiting for his turn and following the same set of rules as everyone else.

At first, he whined and protested loudly about having to wait his turn. He soon learned that the game was enjoyable when played correctly, and he piped down.

He never took well to losing, though. If he saw that someone else was about to win, he usually flipped the board up in the air and laughed maniacally. His mother then sent him to his room, so as not to encourage this type of behavior.

By jholcomb — On Mar 15, 2012

@MissDaphne - There has been talk of that, because it is considered an autism spectrum disorder and not everyone thinks it needs a special name. However, people with Asperger's - including a cousin of mine - and those who love them seem to find the label valuable. There is a widespread Asperger's community and they find their needs to be unique.

I hope that your sister will pursue testing. Raising a special needs child can be lonely and exhausting, and while it is scary to think of your child having "a label," it opens up such a wide variety of resources. Her son will have access to special school programs and she can join an Aspergers parent support group, real or virtual, if she is so inclined. She doesn't have to go it alone any more! Good luck.

By MissDaphne — On Mar 14, 2012

Is the term Asperger's syndrome still used? My nephew is showing symptoms for Asperger's and I'm trying to convince my sister to get him some help. But I think I read that this label was going to be folded into the general "autism spectrum" disorder.

Has that happened? Or does Asperger's still exist as a discrete diagnosis?

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