Autism and the benefits of after-school clubs

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
August 19, 2022

PinAfter-school clubs are settings attached to schools where children may go and enjoy themselves, do things that interest them, maybe to help their learning, develop new friendships, and learn new important skills. 

I never attended an after-school club myself. However, I describe some examples of support measures that helped me that I feel could be used as activities at after-school clubs to the benefit of autistic children, especially in relation to their learning.

Develop and make new friendships

There would be periods where I’d be on my own, and find it difficult to fit in with others. For children in similar situations, this may reduce the likelihood of a child being on their own on a regular basis. Having friendships is good for our well-being.

The opportunity to engage with others during after-school activities that may be of interest to a particular child may offer them an insight into how one should behave in social settings. One could also learn about how to take turns during certain activities and games. 

You can read about my understanding and experiences on relationships with others.

More time could be devoted to one’s needs

I had language development delays, which meant it took me longer to understand new concepts and whatever I was being asked to do. For a child in a similar situation, more time could then be devoted to helping a child with matters related to this in more relaxed and fun settings.

Doing things in relation to a child’s interests and experiences of everyday life can aid their learning and development, as well as improving their cooperation.

Activities and interests

If cartoon type pictures and illustrations can be found, a child should be encouraged to describe in their own words what is happening in the pictures. You could even allow a child to choose illustrations from their favourite books to describe in their own words.

Ways which helped me to improve reading and writing

Because of my language difficulties, I would find reading a challenge, because it was hard for me to understand what a book was about.  If a child has a favourite toy, thinking up stories featuring that particular toy could be an ideal approach here. Read a link below to find out about what got more interested in reading and writing

How I got interested in reading and writing

With mathematics, I found it difficult to understand new concepts. Interests of mine included measurements of things, like heights and weights. You can read more details about these in the link below.

Ways which helped me to progress in maths

A robot developed by a company called Luxai can teach a child with autism appropriate social skills and how to recognise emotions. Another way includes the teaching of using adjectives to describe the sizes of various objects. This would have shown me how to put meaningful sentences together, as well as building up my vocabulary to acceptable levels for my age. The examples in this paragraph are examples of how a device like this in an after-school club could have benefited me.

Ways in which today's technology may have helped me

Other interests of mine

Other interests of mine included building things with toy blocks including Lego and wooden blocks. These can be situations where a child can really put their imagination and creative side to good use. I’d build tall Lego houses with long gardens, and imagine going on adventures and doing interesting things with Lego friends.

Building tunnels and bridges with wooden toy building blocks gave me an insight into balancing. 

Further reading

Autism and benefits of toys, fun and games.

Autism and how interests and obsessions can aid language and communication skills.

And finally

Having creative ideas and access to appropriate toys and other materials during after-school clubs, especially if they’re related to any special interests, can have a positive impact on a child’s ability to learn and develop. You can find out more about these matters in the links above to other posts in my blog. In them I talk about my experiences of what helped me. You are welcome to look for ideas of your own within them. They may even inspire creative ideas of your own. 

If you're a parent, or teacher of any autistic children who have attended an after-school club, please let me know about the impacts on learning and social development in the comments section. 

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