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Modified Play and Social Skills Activities 

By Rosemarie Griffin

For Middle and High School Students 

Leisure skills are of utmost value as we meet students with autism in older grades like middle and high school. Students with autism are spending more time in leisure activities as they enter their teenage years. Leisure skills are so essential as we spend a ton of time doing leisure activities. Let’s give our students with autism the modified play and social skill activities that are appropriate for their age group, but also fun! Increase the overall engagement, peer interaction and social engagement with all of the following activities.  Read on for some ready to use activities right now! 

Modified Scrabble

Scrabble is a classic word game. Let’s modify it so our students with autism can enjoy it and practice those social skills at the same time. To modify Scrabble, it is pretty simple. Instead of building off of words on the game board, simply have students make a word and put it anywhere on the board! This is a great modification, easy to do, and perfect for our middle and high school students. If you are looking for extra practice, you can have the students make a sentence with the word they chose! Check out this  link to ABA Speech on YouTube with a video showing an example! 

Modified Uno

Uno is so much fun for teenagers. It is a game that has a life of its own! We can modify Uno to make it accessible to our middle and high school students with autism fairly easily. In this game, start by putting one card out of each of the colors and have students take turns flipping from the deck and finding the matching color. This game is still fairly quick paced, requires turn taking, following directions, and imitation. Here is another link to ABA Speech on YouTube to see an example! 

Double Up

Next up is an original from ABA Speech! This game again is perfect for our older students in middle school and high school. Double Up is a life skills matching game. This game uses hygiene and leisure words, essential for our teenagers! The game includes 144 vocabulary words with real life pictures, all about hygiene and leisure! It is a 4 player game. It is totally respectable to the age group with the words and activities. The game play goes like this: pick a card and match it to your board. The first person to complete their board says double up! If students don’t have the match on their board, they can ask other players if they have the card.  Associated pictures work too! For example, a basketball and a basketball game could be matched if you are looking for associated pictures. Grab this game today on ABA Speech now!

Grocery Store Game 

Another really fun one is the grocery store game! This game requires students to take turns and use the alphabet. The first player says, “I went to the store and I bought…” and they use a word that starts with a specific letter of the alphabet. An example is, A could be an apple. Using visuals for students who may need it will help keep students engaged in the game! Check out on my website for some more information! 

The Game Gal

The Game Gal is this super fun website that has games ready to go! One of my favorites is this guessing game kind of like Catchphrase! When you click the button, a random word comes up and I describe it for the students. They must guess the word! This is a great tool for working on fluency, or if you need something fun for the end of the session. There are other games available on The Game Gal too!  Depending on how animated your group of students are, you may want to try charades! It could be a ton of fun! Here is a link to the website!


One of my favorite social activities for students with autism is yoga. This gives our students a community feeling and there are many studios in the community that have inclusive yoga! Obviously, yoga is also readily available at home and families can enjoy it at home together. Yoga works on cooperative skills, is an incredible leisure skill, built off of imitation and is a great way to practice duration in a task.

Listening to Music

Music is huge in middle school and high school! Our students with autism love all different genres of music! This is an incredible leisure activity!  In your therapy sessions, listen to songs from different genres from hip hop to musicals! Let the students choose the genres they enjoy the most. I love to have my students listen to songs, and vote if we like the music! It is always fun to see the students’ personalities shine through music! Spotify and Pandora are free music stations for students to pick the songs. Of course you want to make sure songs are school appropriate though. Let those personalities shine! 

All of the following modified games will increase social skills, but also give our teenage students a sense of community and satisfaction, while having fun! The games can be done in therapy, but families can do them at home as well! The games all teach turn taking, imitation, following directions, and staying on task! Enjoy the modified play and social skills for our middle and high school students starting now! 


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Here's a free resource–

IEP Goal Bank

Writing IEPs for autistic learners can feel daunting.

From this free download, you'll get real-life examples of specific, measurable goals for expressive language, receptive language, play skills, and imitation.

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