Selecting Extracurricular Activities for Asperger's Children
There are several factors to consider when choosing activities for an Asperger's child. The activity should be one that makes the child feel comfortable, and it should also be one that the child finds interesting. The things your student or child like the most may even be his or her future profession, so nurture that passion.
For instance, a child with Asperger's syndrome who is non-athletic but loves to read would most likely thrive in a book club rather than on a soccer team. This does not mean that you should not challenge your student to try new things, just do not put him or her into a group where it becomes unhealthy for his or her self-esteem.
Children who have not been previously exposed to extracurricular activities should ease into the process by participating in one activity at first and then gradually adding others. While social interaction is very important for children with Asperger's syndrome, many of these children experience anxiety from too much social activity at once. Take is slow; a class or club that is small in number and does not meet for a prolonged period of time would be ideal to start with.
Places to find groups
Although the type of group will vary by child, here are a few ideas gathered from research:
Summer camps for children who have Asperger's.
Local libraries, colleges (here is an example of a group from the University of Michigan if you live in this area) and churches
Join or search OASIS @ MAAP for local support in your area, ideas and great articles.
Last and most importantly, parents can help select the best activities for promoting social skills in autistic students by talking with the person in charge of the group, consulting with teachers and other parents of special needs children, and being supportive and encouraging of their children's participation.