Including an autistic parishioner in GAME NIGHT: 11 games that work

Game night

A game night at church is a great way to reach out to your autistic parishioners. Generally, they like rules. It provides an easy social environment with built-in conversation. And you know what? They like to have fun, too.

Here are just a few games that have some great potential for getting a spectrum parishioner involved. And FYI, none of these companies know I exist. I am getting zero kickbacks for this. These are genuinely, honestly some of my personal favorites (and some of William’s, too), and others that come highly recommended from other parents of spectrum kids.

I’ve included games targeted at kids as young as 3, but there’s fun here for all ages (older kids and up are the second half of the list).

1. Richard Scarry’s Busytown


I personally love this one because players work together to win, rather than compete against each other. Players spin, advance, and find items on the board. Just make sure you have room for it–it’s a six-foot game board! Ages 3-8.

2. Don’t Break the Ice

Don't break the ice

A William favorite for the ages: players take turns pounding out “ice blocks” with a plastic mallet, jenga-style, hoping not to be the one who makes the whole pond crash in. Ages 4-6.

3. Memory


You can use all the cards, or use smaller arrays, depending on the child’s skill level. So many cool versions are available! Ages 3-8

4. Animal upon Animal

animal upon animal

Players roll the dice and race to be the first to get all their wooden animals on the collective animal stack. Winner of the Major Fun! award and Mr. Dad Seal of Approval. Ages 3-12.

5. Zingo


Like a fast-paced Bingo. Each player tries to fill his card first by pulling cards out of the zinger. 4-8 years

6. Candyland


Classic Candyland! Draw cards to advance on the board and be the first to arrive at Home Sweet Home. Ages 4-15.

7. Trouble


Players pop the bubble to advance their four pegs around the board and hope they don’t get bumped back to the start! Ages 5-15

8. Korner’d


Players look for where the patterns on their tiles fit on the game board. This one is visibly approved by Autism Speaks on the game box. I love it because many autistic people like to play with angles–and this game requires that skill. Manufacturer’s suggested age range is 8+, but William’s been playing it since he was 5.

9. Tsuro


Players are dragons floating on the wind, and they lay tiles in front of them to find their path. Don’t bump into anyone or fall off the board, or you’re out. Ages 8+.

10. Ticket to Ride

ticket to ride

Players are railroad tycoons! They draw cards that show them the routes they need to mark out on the board, and collect cards of different colors to claim them before other players do. NOTE: This game is for a higher skill level, so you may want to consider modifications for play–e.g. play with your cards and tickets open, or nix the tickets entirely and just claim the routes you want if you have the appropriate cards. Ages 8+.

11. Twister


For fun that’s a little louder and a little more physical, get out some Twister and get tangled up! Ages 6+.

Now go rock a game night! 😀


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