This is a stressful time for many on the autism spectrum struggling to cope with changes in routine and uncertainties. A silver lining is that so many organizations and individuals have seen the need and offered free ways to keep busy, explore interests and make the time spent worthwhile. This pandemic has caused some major life changes, so why not try to offer some suggestions to make the shake up a bit more of an opportunity to grow, refine or inspire interests. 

We put together a wide variety of fun and practical things to explore while spending this extra time at home:

  1. Make your home more sensory friendly: What better time than now? This overview of autism-friendly home design will help kickstart some ideas. This guide digs a little deeper into the steps on how to design a home more accessible for individuals on the spectrum.
  2. Check out the latest Autism Grown Up Podcast. Our very own Desiree Kameka shares more about our three housing programs and things to consider when exploring housing options of adults on the autism spectrum

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: Virtual famous museum tours

3. Take a virtual walk through the most famous museums in the world. Many museums offer a look through their galleries including: the Louvre Museum in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

  1. Gather together for solo or family-friendly art classes: Easy Fun Coloring, The Art Sherpa, How to Draw, Facedrawer, or Draw with Rob. Take it one more step and enroll in a University Art Class through universities such as Duke or Harvard.
  2. Be inspired and giggle with your inner child on StorylineOnline, a YouTube channel filled with videos of celebrities reading children’s books. Oprah Winfrey reads the Hula Hoopin’ Queen or Kristen Bell reads Quackenstein Hatches a Family.

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: Kennedy Space Center science lessons

6. Watch science lessons through the Kennedy Space Center on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9:30 am EST. An example of a lesson through their Facebook live was teaching people how to make rockets at home with recycled materials from the Saturn 5 center. You can also explore their videos for rocket launches.

  1. Geek out on all things Disney: Take an online tour of Walt Disney World rides, attractions, and shows. Learn how Disney Imagineers (the theme park builders) bring Disney Parks to life from concept to reality by taking a free Imagineering in a Box course.
  2. Start learning about Person-Centered Planning and consider beginning to put together your team to do a virtual Person-Centered Planning meeting! The Autism Housing Network Resource Directory has a Topic filter called Person-Centered Planning Tools to help you get started. 

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: The Royal Opera House streaming ballet and opera performances

9. Get a culture fix by streaming opera and ballet performances at The Royal Opera House. Performances include Peter and the Wolf and Metamorphosis among others.

  1. Relax with free yoga classes such as: Alo Yoga or Yoga Ed.
  2. Make learning about music fun with this Ultimate List of Online Music Education Games.
  3. Create a coloring book with your own pictures or check out The Farm Girl Gabs for 1000 free Disney coloring pages. The local project of Madison House Autism Foundation, Madison Fields, has a fun, free coloring book downloading highlighting activities at the farm. 

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: Mo Willems Lunch Doodles

13. Spend your lunchtime doodling with children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems every day at 1:00pm EST.

  1. Individuals of all ages can enjoy free classes offered by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Classes offered include: Aviation is your Future, Aeronautics Pathway, or Meteorology.
  2. Start thinking about future residential options by watching the Autism Housing Network Virtual Tour of Housing & Support Options. This 5-part video series includes lots of video examples and explains  the benefits and considerations of over 18 different models for adults with I/DD.
  3. Check out zoos around the world through videos and live webcams without leaving your home: San Diego Zoo, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Ouwehand Park Polar Bear Cubs, or Zoo Atlanta Panda Cam

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: Explore videos & webcams of aquariums

17. Go underwater with videos and webcams at aquariums: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, New England Aquarium, or the National Aquarium.

  1. Travel the world and visit places you have dreamed of such as: The Great Wall of China, Colonial Williamsburg, or Pompeii.
  2. Take Netflix up a notch and use this list to find 150+ educational shows.
  3. Tour the Center for Puppetry Arts and watch free puppet shows.
  4. Don’t miss out on attending concerts. Many musicians are holding livestream concerts from their homes or recording studios.

25 Fun and Practical Things for Autistic Adults or Neurodiverse Families to Explore During Social Distancing: Explore the US National Parks

22. Explore the U.S. National Parks (including: Bryce Canyon, Dry Tortugas, Carlsbad Caverns, and Hawai’i Volcanoes) with their 360-degree virtual tours.

  1. Get outside and do a neighborhood photo scavenger hunt.
  2. Even if you are stuck inside, check out these live animal cams to play a game to find sea otters, Alaskan brown bears, jellyfish, European brown bears, hippos, and other animals.
  3. Spend time together in the kitchen with these simple, fun cooking classes every weekday.

If all else fails, put everything aside and just be silly! The AHN wants to support you and help you through this time with pertinent, helpful information. Follow our Facebook page for updates and share your boredom busters in the comments .

Autism After 21 Day #autismawareness #autismawarenessmonth #autism awarenessday
April 21st is Autism After 21 Day. Follow our Facebook page for ways to get involved starting on April 1st or consider joining us for a special breakfast on October with distinguished speakers in celebration, inclusion, and support of adults with autism or in our communities.

About the Author

Christina Wandry

Christina is the Communications Manager for the Autism Housing Network (AHN). She seeks to create connections between neurodiverse individuals, their families and a variety of organizations. Christina manages the AHN’s digital marketing, content curation, graphic design, social media platforms and website. She has a passion for helping people on the autism spectrum and their families and takes pride in helping provide the best housing solutions for them. Christina earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Utah.