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Autism Awareness Week - Great Resources for Children with Autism

SEN Resources


Georgina Durrant runs The SEN Resources Blog which is a site for parents and teachers of children with a Special Educational Needs. Georgina is a qualified teacher and former SENDCO with a BSc in Medical Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma In Vulnerable Learners and Inclusion. Her site SEN Resources is visited by thousands of parents and teachers each month. This is a blog post written by Georgina about the best Orchard Toys resources for children with Autism.

I’m a huge believer in the importance of play. It can help children to develop a whole range of skills and consequently, good quality toys, games and resources can play a huge part in a child’s learning.

One area I’ve been looking at recently are games and puzzles that could be beneficial and enjoyable for autistic children.

Autism is a life long development disability that effects certain areas of development such as social interaction, communication and the way people experience the world. Therefore, I was searching for games and learning resources that could help support children in these areas. In particular I’ve been looking at the range of games and puzzles by Orchard Toys.

It must be stressed that every autistic child is unique and their needs of support within these areas, as well as others, can vary vastly from one child to another. As can autistic children’s likes, dislikes, strengths and personalities. So although I’m recommending resources, these are only based on my own experiences, you as parents/carers are the experts on your own children.

Orchard Toys design and manufacture educational games and jigsaws for children. I’ve been working with Orchard Toys looking at a number of their games to see which are most beneficial for autistic children. Many of their games are great for autistic children, however these are a few of my current favourites from Orchard Toys:

1. Money match Cafe

We love this game. Children are given pieces to build adorable, three-dimensional, little tables for their own teddies, so they can create a pretend cafe scene. They then have to take it turns to add up the value of the coins on their card and match it to the price of a meal. Once they’ve done this, they then take the ‘meal’ to the ’till’, spin a spinner to select a table and then present their meal (on a tiny tray!) to their lucky teddy.

Why have we chosen this game?

The structure and rules of this game are clear and logical to follow. We particularly loved that it provides an opportunity (through play)

to practise a life skill of going to a cafe and buying food. Money Match Cafe can also help children develop important numeracy skills including money and addition.

2. Look and Find Jigsaws

Orchard Toys have a range of different Look and Find Jigsaws, which comprise of two puzzles in one box. Their topics include the alphabet, numbers (up to 10), shapes and colours. One of the puzzles in the box shows the topic covered, for example a jigsaw of the letters of the alphabet in order. The other puzzle is of a busy scene, such as at the park or under the sea, for children to identify the topic within in, for example to find ‘something beginning with the letter ‘C”

Why have we chosen this game?

Puzzles can be well loved by some autistic children. I’ve worked with autistic children who have been exceptional at jigsaw puzzles and enjoyed puzzles not only because they were good at them, but also because the goals and expectations of carrying out a jigsaw puzzle are logical. The Look and Find Jigsaw puzzle format might be a great incentive to help children learn the topics they cover (the alphabet, numbers etc)

3. Bus Stop

Children are given their very own bus card and passenger cards to ‘sit’ in their ‘bus’. They take turns to roll the dice and move their bus along the bus route. If they land on a minus, they have to spin the spinner and whichever number they land on, take off that many passengers off their bus. If they land on a plus sign, they do the same but add them onto their bus instead. The winner is the person who has the most passengers by the time they make it all the way round to the bus station.

Why have we chosen this game?

This is our favourite of their games. We loved that it helped reinforce the routine of catching a bus (bus comes from the bus station, through the town, picks some people up, drops others off, goes back to bus station). In terms of numeracy skills, it’s a brilliant game for practising addition and subtraction without even realising their are learning!

Overall, Orchard Toys’ Games and jigsaws are engaging and fun, featuring bold pieces and simple gameplay. The products are perfect for encouraging communication, social interaction and prompting discussion.


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