• Autism21sg

Puzzle building activity for children with special needs...

Jigsaw puzzles for children with autism can be fun, challenging, inexpensive, and readily available. They come in cardboard, plastic, wood, rubber, foam, and you can also find them made of chocolate for special occasions. So, if you are wondering who does jigsaw puzzles, we can tell you upfront on a wide range of people who love puzzles, and they provide benefits for just about everyone. There are not many educational experiences that have the far-reaching potential to teach such a varied range of thinking skills, as well as other useful skills, such as patience and perseverance. Learning these skills can benefit everyone—especially those with autism. The educational value of doing a jigsaw puzzle is priceless.

Here are 10 ways your loved one with autism can benefit from jigsaw puzzles:

1. Problem solving: There is a clear problem—the puzzle is in pieces—and it needs to be put together. Unlike many other situations people with autism face, puzzles are different—there is only one solution. Problem solving with only one possible solution is a very worthwhile and meaningful experience.

2. Improving Memory: You must use your memory when assembling a jigsaw puzzle. If you don’t finish the puzzle the same day, you have to remember where you left off.

3. Attention span: Jigsaw puzzles help build the attention span of those with autism as you have to focus on colours, shapes, and sizes.

4. Fine motor skills: Another useful benefit of jigsaw puzzles is helping to develop fine motor skills as you must work carefully to fit the pieces together correctly.

5. Sorting: Being able to sort pieces by color, shape, edges, etc. is a benefit and promotes patience and a sense of accomplishment.

6. Social Skill: This is my favourite—people with autism can benefit from doing jigsaw puzzles with other people. Working with others promotes inclusion, listening, and interaction. I sometimes prompt my students to tell me the colours of the pieces, which helps with vocabulary building.

7. Independence: Doing jigsaw puzzles alone helps with independence and confidence. It also gives me time to do a chore while my daughter is engaged in her puzzle. I can see the sense of accomplishment on her face when she is able to finish it on her own.

8. Persistence: Those who are not used to doing jigsaw puzzles will sometimes become frustrated and give up but after a while. With some help they will keep working on it and keep trying. Persistence is a very valuable lesson for anyone.

9. Confidence building: This is an important benefit because when a person finishes a jigsaw puzzle on their own it gives a huge boost to their self-confidence and self-esteem.

10. Endless entertainment: Jigsaw puzzles provide endless education and amusement. Having a good time and learning while doing it is the objective. The value of building skills and being able to transfer those skills to other situation can prove helpful with the future of those with autism.

Now that you know how beneficial jigsaw puzzles are for the autistic community, you can let your loved one pick out a puzzle with an interesting image and enjoy it together. Be sure to choose a puzzle that will hold interest and is not too easy or too hard. My suggestion would be to start with no more than 24 large pieces and increase from there, as needed. Choose a clutter-free area dedicated to work on the puzzle without distraction. Lastly, encourage and praise effort and work.

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