Board Game Ideas for Almost 1St Grader / High Functioning Autism?

Updated on May 14, 2013
P.G. asks from San Antonio, TX
12 answers

Hi Moms,

I would like to start a family board game night and am not sure where to start. We have a few games at home. The kid games were played with a bit, but not so much anymore. My guy seems pretty smart so I don't want to pick something too simple, but not to hard either. He's not too bad at turn taking, but I'd like him to be better, obviously. I heard Temple Grandin recently talk about board games being very good tools for practicing socialization, so that's reinforced my desire to make this a "thing" in our home.

What do you moms recommend? If your kiddo is on the spectrum, have any particular games worked well for you? If not on the spectrum, what does your family like and what seems to really encourage interaction?


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answers from Denver on

Games with no "winners" and "losers" are helpful. There's one that's based on the Eye-Spy books that my oldest son liked a lot.

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answers from Hartford on

My autistic daughter is 10 years and still isn't great with board games. She has trouble with the turn-taking aspect and complicated rules... they're difficult concepts for her especially when she realizes that the other players grasp the concepts easily.

When we play games we try to play ones that don't have a clear winner/loser but still reinforce the concepts of turn taking and learning rules and fair play. As she's gotten older, we're trying to find more competitive games to include her in but she's not extremely competitive to begin with... yet still likes to win. And so we're sort of in the holding pattern of "there are no losers" and we can all still have fun.

That means staying away from board games here. I do have to say that she LOVES Bingo. LOVES LOVES LOVES it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'll try this again-- my computer is whacked out today.

My son is not on the spectrum; however, I have noticed that kids this age (some of them) are very challenged by the emotional win/lose of competitive games, so we keep at least half or more of our game-playing cooperative. The hard time with losing is very age-appropriate for 5s 6s and 7 year olds, and so why make things so high stakes if it's supposed to be fun?

Family Pastimes is a board game company out of Canada which offers a huge variety of cooperative games for all skill levels. "Max" and "Granny's House" are two of our favorites; engaging for adults as well. Other games offer even more opportunities for planning and strategy. I highly recommend this brand. We have several of their games (no duds--except Harvest Time, which he may find a bit slow) and you can find more here:

We also choose to play other games non-competitively, with a group goal of 'how big can we make it' or 'how many can we use up' etc. Favorites are Ravensburger's "Rivers, Roads and Rails", "Qwirkle" (both have to do with matching patterns and sequencing) and Cathedral, which is similar to Blockus, but has wooden buildings/structures which all have to fit on a grid board. "Mystery Garden" by Ravensburger is another favorite. Haba makes a game "Orchard" where the players must work collectively to harvest fruit trees into little baskets (great for tactile kids) before a raven puzzle is constructed (rolls of the die indicate what happens) and he gets to it first.

My son does like Sequence Junior and Mancala too, but avoids these right now because he hates losing, even if it's only 50% of the time. I know he'll eventually grow out of it feeling huge for him, but for right now, I'm trying to keep it simple and fun.

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answers from Minneapolis on

At that age, my son and I enjoyed playing cooperative games made by Family Pastimes

They have a wide variety of themes so you can pick a topic that interests him. My husband hates the competitiveness of typical board games but he enjoyed playing these. The cooperative games also encourage a lot of interaction because for the "mission" to succeed you all need to talk and make decisions together. One of our favorite of these games is "Eyes of the Jungle".

If your child is more spatial, a couple good games are Blockus and Swish. Swish is a game that can also be adjusted to match the individual abilities of the players or played cooperatively.

Edit: Just read the other answers and saw someone else recommended Family Pastimes. They are wonderful!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Even though candy land might seem too "simple" , my son loved it for a long time. He also really liked Hi Ho Cherrio. When some one had to empty their bucket of cherries we would all say, " Dump that bucket, Daddy!" (or whoever had to dump it) to make it more of a fun thing than an "aw, bummer I have to start all over" thing.

If he likes building, there is a game called Lego Creator. I think it is still out. We had an older version from a yard sale. It involved building simple cars/robots/ etc. out of legos. We adjusted the rules when my son was younger and it was a favorite for us!

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answers from Dallas on

I don't know about Autism, but my kids did not handle competition well at that age. You get caught in the trap of feeling like you have to let them win. My kids loved the Cranium games. Cadoo is a children's version of the game. You draw things, make stuff out of playdoh, act things out like charades, solve riddles, etc. We would often play it without using the board, so you did not really keep score. There is a kid version of Pictionary, if your kid likes to draw. Guess Who was another favorite. If your kid is active, Twister is a great game, that is more about having fun than winning.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son turns 6 this month and will go to kinder in the fall. He is not on the spectrum. Here are his favorite board games:

Sequence for Kids (though, at this age, he's almost ready for regular Sequence)
Connect Four Launchers
Trouble (though I don't like this one at all)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We like Scrabble alphabet Soup, Trouble, matching games. My son is almost 7.

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answers from Dallas on

Just typical kids here but we loved UNO card games, Sorry, and Memory games.



answers from Washington DC on

Connect 4



answers from Pittsburgh on

My son is on the spectrum (about to finish 2nd grade) and taking turns or not winning was hard for him to adjust to. Congrats to you for helping him at home :) My son absolutely Loved to play Operation, he really enjoyed Sorry Sliders, Bop It and Bingo was a big hit too. He was/is not very fond of UNO or Memory or Guess Who. He has since become involved in Jenga and we had a long term of playing Guestures. My son loves games now and that is what he always buys with his "money".
Good Luck



answers from Atlanta on

How about games that involve making words out of letters or sums out of numbers? Scrabble is too complicated at this point, however I have found a game which consists of about 13 dice with letters in a cup; each player takes turns rolling them and trying to use as many dice as possible in words. These games could be played in non-competitive ways too, or in teams.

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