Playing Jenga the autism way

Playing Jenga the autism way
For my son Nicholas's ninth birthday I picked out Jenga for one of his presents. Nicholas is high functioning and likes to build things. He is a whiz at the Lego Bionicles without needing to read the directions and puts them together in record time.

Jenga is geared for children eight years and older, so this was suitable for Nicholas. He tends to finds things at Toys "R" Us that are for much younger age groups, so when I make purchases I try to find things that are age appropriate.

At first Nicholas was upset that he would have to stack the blocks perfectly to fit back into the box, and this was a deterrent in playing with it. Soon he overcame that hurdle and now loves to play with Jenga. There are 54 rectangular hardwood blocks for stacking and building creations sparked by the imagination of the child.

This is suitable for solo imaginative play or with more than one person for competitive fun in toppling over towers and trying to keep them balanced without tipping over.

Nicholas has been building various towers using a ruler to measure their height. Once he has grown tired of these experiments he moves on to creating his own Zoo with a variety of toy animals, trees and accessories. He has the cats in their own section with viewing spots for visitors, eating areas, sleeping spots and trees to provide shaded spots. He gets these ideas from viewing Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Animal Planet.

Today he got out the car box that contains two sides of race cars and built garages for the cars to be housed. He also made car ports and elevators for the cars to be lifted up to the top of the tower.

It is amazing what a box of wooden blocks can do for a creative child on the Autism Spectrum. This is a great toy to have on hand for therapy time and social skills classes. Other family members can have this at their house for when the child on the Autism Spectrum visits and makes a great gift for birthdays and other gift giving Holidays.

This box takes up hardly any room in the house and can be played at a table or on the floor like Nicholas prefers. Currently Nicholas is using his Dinosaurs with the Jenga. We took a picture yesterday of one of his zoo creations, which gives him a boost in his accomplishments.

With children on the Autism Spectrum you need to think outside the box and let them explore with toys and find an alternate way to play with the product.

Matthew does the same thing with Connect Four and uses it another way to sort red and black. These are both good items for eye-hand coordination and for children with varying function levels within the Spectrum. These make good toys for parallel play as well, where kids can be busy making their own towers.

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