4 Parents Pick their Best Activities for Children on the Spectrum

Hong Kong mother reveals recreational activities popular among parents of children with ASD.


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Every parent knows the challenges of finding suitable extracurricular and recreational activities for children on the autism spectrum. Drawing from my personal experiences and insights from fellow parents, here is some valuable information on discovering meaningful and successful activities.

Confidence-building activities for children with ASD 

My son has been swimming on and off for years because it's an essential life skill and helps with regulation. He learned to swim at our clubhouse with private coaches who are certified by the Hong Kong Swimming Coaches Association and the Hong Kong China Swimming Association.

Currently, he is 11 years old and thoroughly enjoys the private drawing classes he takes twice per month at Colour My World – his teacher is incredibly caring and engages with an obscure or specific topic my son is feeling inspired by. They will gently guide his projects during sessions.  Since joining them, my son has gained confidence and increased his fine motor and planning skills.

My son also did Minecraft coding in a small group through Cobo Academy, and we appreciate their inclusive approach to creating a class that suits his interests. It allowed him to engage in a project he enjoyed, be social with other classmates, build confidence, and share common interests during class time. 


Meaningful activities for children with ASD

Adriano, an 8.5-year-old boy, is on a journey exploring various activities in Hong Kong. His mother, Carmen, understands the challenges of finding the perfect fit.  After Adriano developed an interest in chess during his COVID-19 online lessons, Carmen found Scholastic Chess in Hong Kong, and Adriano now enjoys weekly lessons over Zoom honing his chess-playing skills. Carmen says this may lead to in-person chess classes or tournaments in the future.

Adriano has been taking swimming classes with Eliteswim Academy for three years. He participates in group classes twice a week with six other children, under the supervision of accommodating swim coaches who support his needs.

Hiking with his family is another activity Adriano loves. Spending time with nature not only has physical benefits but also improves Adriano’s attention span, cognition, and social skills. Hiking also provides valuable learning experiences with plants, animals, and the environment.


Creative activities for children with ASD

Swimming has been an important part of 11-year-old Liv’s life for the past three years.  She has always been drawn to the water, and to ensure her safety, her mother Eve made sure Liv received private swimming lessons with a certified swim coach. Currently, she swims with a private instructor who has experience working with individuals with special needs.

In addition to swimming, Liv has been attending weekly physiotherapy sessions at SPOT for the past two years, and the positive impact on Liv's overall motivation, cooperation, physical motor planning, strength, and coordination has been profound. 

Eve emphasizes that the teachers and therapists who work with Liv aren’t just "nice," "patient," or "inclusive." They have a deep understanding of neurodiversity and can effectively engage and motivate children like Liv during their sessions.

Recently, the family embarked on a project to showcase Liv's passion for drawing with her very own website, surpriseconfetti.com. The site allows Liv to share her creations with the world and advocate for individuals like herself.

Eve notes that options are limited when it comes to finding activities or classes for children with special needs. She hopes that in the future, more recreational hubs will offer autism-friendly classes and ensure that their staff members have a better understanding and knowledge of autism.


Nurturing activities for children with ASD

Nine-year-old Carol* and 11-year-old Claire* are siblings who are both on the autism spectrum. Their mom Sara* believes in providing them with diverse activities and treating them like any other child while considering their individual needs. Sara avoids crowded places and prioritizes activities based on their preferences. If they enjoy an activity, they continue; if not, they find another one.

Currently, the girls engage in three activities regularly. They swim with a private coach at their clubhouse pool and enjoy trampoline classes at the South China Athletic Association where they learn multiple steps, coordination, waiting their turn, and performing under pressure.

Due to their sensitivity to sound, Sara enrolled them in musical instrument classes at the Heep Hong Society. These classes are taught by special needs teachers and have improved the siblings’ memory and ability to focus on tasks. The girls are now less sensitive to random music and sounds.

Carol also finds playing with slime satisfying as it offers a tactile sensory experience that aids in regulation.

*names have been changed at the request of the interviewee.


Visit  Resources here to download our curated list of recreational activities.