Students on the autism spectrum typically have some deficits in Executive Functioning. Let’s be honest, we all have deficits and can improve in various areas. Executive Functioning skills include flexibility, memory, self-monitoring, problem solving, organization, initiation, planning, execution, inhibition and emotional regulation. The good news is these skills can be learned and improved through practice.
Problem solving, flexibility and memory can all be practiced through playing games. Card games and board games are a fun way to practice these skills. Ten games for practicing these skills are:
- Fluxx- A card game for three or more players where the rules and goal of the game constantly change.
- Blokus- A board game for two to four players where you strategically place pieces to block other players.
- Monopoly Deal- The card game version of Monopoly.
- Othello- A two-player board game where thinking more than one move ahead is important.
- Rummikub- A game for two to four players where rearranging tiles and thinking creatively helps you to use all of your tiles first.
- Qwirkle Cubes- A board game where you build on what others have played and strategically look for ways to get the most points possible.
- Bananagrams- A board game where you create an individual Scrabble board to use your tiles to spell words. Sometimes you have to be flexible by completely undoing what you have done in order to use a new tile that has been picked.
- Telestrations- A fun board game for three or more players similar to telephone where you draw and guess and the original word is rarely what shows up at the end. This game requires lots of creativity and problem solving skills.
- Rook- A card game for four players where thinking ahead and working silently with your partner helps you win the game.
- Skip Bo- A card game where you have to remember the goal of getting rid of one pile of cards while playing other cards at the same time.
Card and board games help practice flexibility by using creativity and thinking outside the box, practicing memory by remembering and following the rules and problem solving by using strategy and thinking ahead to try to win the game! There are numerous games out there and you probably have some family favorites of your own. Play some games together and help build those executive functioning skills with your son or daughter.
Compliment your son or daughter on their ability to use these skills while playing or after the game ends. Later, when they may be struggling in one of these areas, remind them how well they used flexibility, problem solving or their memory in a game and encourage them to try to use the skill in the moment.