Autism Allies: Geeklist Games for Autistic Kids (June 2019)
Jonathan
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What games have you taught your autistic kids?

Feel free to add to the list!



My 2 older kids are 7 and 5 years old. Both of them are autistic (what used to be called Asperger's and now some refer to as "high functioning"). My wife and I are both autistic as well(Asperger's too).

Neither of my kids can really read very well yet but they do know some words. How we compensate for that is teaching them sight words such as "draw, trash, discard, buy, action, etc." We play a lot of deck builders and have started diving into other categories as of late.

It's going to be different for every kid. No 2 kids are alike. No 2 autistic people are alike. As the saying goes "when you've met one autistic person, you've literally met one autistic person."

That said... Here's how I taught our kids games. My wife has played some of these with us as well.


mb Games to teach autistic (Aspie) kids? The full list of games I've taught my kids can be found here.

mb What Games Did You Play This Past Week subscription thread Get notified when our favorite weekly question of what we played during the past week is posted each week typically on Sundays or Mondays.

mb The Autism Allies Guild - Click "Join Guild" to join the Autism Allies guild!
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1. Board Game: Kingdomino [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:203] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Jonathan
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Texas
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Tile Placement, Set Collection; 15-20 minutes: 2-4 players

This game is great because it's great to play and quick. No reading involved really.

My 7 and 5 year old loves this one! The game is rather intuitive and teaches kids taking turns. Also the cost/benefit aspect of the game is great.

Do I take this really great tile and risk going last next turn? Or do I take not as a great a tile to hopefully get something better next round?

Also, the logistics of building a 5x5 is a great puzzle for kids. We do say that you can move 1 or more tiles around at the end of the game to help with scoring.
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2. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:861]
Jonathan
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Texas
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Dice Rolling & City Building; 30-45 minutes; 2-4 players.

This is a great game that even my 2 year old likes playing. He'll just roll the dice. My 7 year old and 5 year old like playing this a lot!

No real changes in rules. Great fun for the whole family! On of our most played games this year!
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3. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Jonathan
United States
Texas
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Worker Placement & dice rolling; about 60 minutes; 2-4 players

This game is a great worker placement introduction game. My 7 year old and 5 year old like this game. It also helps them with addition, multiplication, and subtraction.

The great thing about this game is that you're just placing workers, rolling dice, and looking at symbols on tiles/cards. So no reading involved really.
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4. Board Game: 5-Minute Dungeon [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:660]
Jonathan
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Texas
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Cooperative, timed, variable powers, card game; about 5 minutes; 2-5 players

Fun for the whole family! The app online really adds to the game. Plays well with 2, 3, 4, or 5 players. My 7 year old and 5 year old like this game. My wife too!

The only reading required is to understand each players special powers and cards. However, there are symbols that help explain the cards well.

My daughter was 4 when she started playing this game. She learned the Blue Deck (Wizard/Sorceress) and loves pausing the time. She's 5 now. My son learned the yellow deck and likes to play the Paladin/Valkyrie. He also has memorized the cards and abilities.
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5. Board Game: Camel Up [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:421]
Jonathan
United States
Texas
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Wagering, Dice Rolling, Spin & move; 20-30 minutes; 2-8 players

There's no reading in this game. Fun for the whole family! The race is just one lap around the map.

Nobody controls an individual camel.

You can bet on which camel will be in first place at the end of the round. You can also bet on who will win the race or come in last.
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6. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:76] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Jonathan
United States
Texas
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Deckbuilding; 45-60 minutes; 2-4 players

This is a great starter deckbuilding game. My son started playing this when he was 4. Some of the first words he started recognizing were "trash, draw, build, action" as a result.

There are a lot of expansions to this game that can really add to the game. You choose 10 decks to play with and each expansion comes with an additional 30ish options.

Some expansions include:

Dominion: Intrigue
Dominion: Seaside
Dominion: Prosperity
Dominion: Dark Ages
Dominion: Alchemy

Note that there's a 2nd edition of this game. I personally prefer the 1st edition.
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7. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:440]
Jonathan
United States
Texas
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Bluffing, Deduction; 15-20 minutes; 2-6 players

This game is great in that you can play 3-4 times in an hour. Games can last as little as a couple minutes if people challenge (say that the person doesn't have a card) unsuccessfully other players.

The box is so small you can actually play this on the go as well. This game is still number 2 on our list of overall plays and number 1 non-app game. My 7 and 5 year old love this game! My wife is incredibly good at this one too.
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8. Board Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:273]
Jonathan
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Fully Cooperative game with Harry Potter theme; deckbuilding; 2-4 players; about 60-75 minutes

Note: This game has a great theme and progresses over 7 years/ages. There's also an expansion Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion which can extend the game. Great for Harry Potter fans and lovers of deckbuilding.

If you'd like an introductory deckbuilding game this is the one to teach your kids after Dominion. My 7 and 5 year old liked this game.
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9. Board Game: Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:61]
Jonathan
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Map & dungeon exploration theme: deckbuilder; 2-4 players; about 60 minutes

This game is great! It's really fun that you use a combination of your player token to explore and get treasure (my kids love the treasure) on the board with your cards building your deck.

This is one of my 5 year old daughter's favorite games. I like this even better than Clank in Space because with 3 players you can finish in 60 minutes which is about the limit of her attention span.
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10. Board Game: Piratoons [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:4481]
Jonathan
United States
Texas
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worker bidding, building ships; 2-4 players about 20 minutes

If we want a game that's just chill this is our go-to game. I typically win this game but the kids have been improving as they learn how the scoring points are allocated. Great fun for the whole family!
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11. Board Game: Max [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:4134]
Laura
United States
Arlington
Texas
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My son loved this as a 3 year old!
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12. Board Game: Sleeping Queens [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2008]
Laura
United States
Arlington
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This was the first complex game he totally "got," at about age 6.

We've spent many happy hours with the queens.
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13. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:852]
Bill Fogarty
United States
Seffner
Florida
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https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/promoting-empathy-yo...

Psychology Today featured a piece by a clinician who uses Tsuro in some of his work with teenagers on the spectrum.
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14. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:132]
Galen Heinrichs
Canada
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan
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My autistic son competes very well with this one and frequently wins.

I am amazed at the similarity between this list and the games we always play and have had the most success with.
 
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15. Board Game: The Dance [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Clark Rodeffer
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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Two things I've noticed about the two of my kids who have Autism spectrum diagnoses are both are independent, creative thinkers, and both use their creativity as means to communicate. This includes games.

My eldest daughter is able to learn and competitively play almost any type of board or card game; however, she struggles with social deduction type games (Werewolf, Coup, Poker, etc.). As a result, she gravitates toward games with more concrete rules and/or a variety of paths to victory. She competes (and holds her own!) in an annual tournament of abstract strategy games I have organized since 2000. At the 2011 event, when she was eight years old, she authored Play Win, which was later included in the Yavalath & Co. collection. Then in 2018, she authored The Dance, which while it can be drawish, still shows her creativity, and is enjoyable for casual play.

Being 'kids these days,' both my eldest daughter and youngest son (my two with Autism diagnoses) are also strongly drawn to video games. Again, both do better and enjoy games that offer opportunities for creative success in ways that do not require interpretation of social cues. Examples that have worked well include Animal Jam, Super Mario Maker, Minecraft, and Roblox. Creating 'masterpieces' in Animal Jam, new levels for Mario to solve, and all sorts of sandbox world creations help both kids communicate.
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16. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Jonathan
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(semi-cooperative, deck-builder, hand management) about 35-45 minutes

This is a great game for kids who like super heroes. Which my kids love both Marvel and DC super heroes.

Since it's semi-cooperative I just would read the cards for my kids. Eventually playing the same decks they learned what various hero and villain characters could do. We haven't played this one in a bit since I've been introducing them to all kinds of new games. But it was very popular last year.
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17. Board Game: Rise of Augustus [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:862]
Jonathan
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Texas
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Roman version of Bingo which helped identify colors, patterns, placing tokens/legions, and the concept of bonuses for sets.

This plays in about 30 minutes with 2-4 players.

My kids love this game in that they like playin "Bingo". No reading necessary as the game cards and pieces all have visual explanations.

We played this as a family recently 2-3 times at BGGCon Spring 2019.
 
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18. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:93] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Jonathan
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Deck-builder, counting, adding, subtracting, color coordination, etc.

About 20-30 minutes; 2-4 players; best with 2 players

After Dominion this was one of my son's favorite deckbuilding games as a 4 and 5 year old. My daughter loves this one now at age 5. We still play it on occasion.

There's a great app for the game as well that allows for a 2 player game.
 
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