How to Start Teaching Autism Games

Teaching kids with autism to play games is tricky. In 2008, I met a behavior analyst who changed my whole view on how to teach autism games. So today, I want to talk about Steve Ward and his book on this important topic. Games can help increase eye contact, facial expressions, and more social interactions.

Each week I provide you with some of my ideas about turning autism around, so if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do that now and join the thousands who already have.

A few months ago, I also started a weekly Turn Autism Around podcast and one of my guests was Steve Ward; he’s featured in episode number 22. If you haven’t heard the episode with Steve on Teaching Kids with Autism Games and Leisure Activities, I encourage you to listen to it.

Teaching Autism Games

So years ago, I met Steve Ward at a book signing. I was signing my book, The Verbal Behavior Approach and he was signing his new book, What You Need to Know About Motivation and Teaching Games.

I wrote a written blog on this topic, but now since I’ve interviewed Steve for my podcast and we talked about some other things, I wanted to hop back on here and do a video blog about Steve’s book and Steve’s work. Since then, it really has changed the way I teach autism games. I’ve recommended this book more times than I can count. Steve’s book includes an analysis of how games help language. All that information is in the beginning.

Autism Games

Then there are 12 specific games such as Go Fish, Simon Says, and Memory with datasheets and ways you could adapt the game based on functioning level and language. When I returned home from reading the book and meeting Steve, right away I wanted to implement these strategies with my son, Lucas. I told his therapy team that since he was already playing Go Fish that I wanted to try to get that to be better.

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When I really sat down and used the data sheets and Steve’s book, the behavior analyst and I were able to see that we really didn’t have him playing Go Fish very well at all. It was very prompt dependent and it wasn’t really looking good. So we did use Steve’s techniques to improve that game as well as other games. I was able to count errors and prompts and we were able to then make some changes to the game that we didn’t think of prior to reading the book and meeting Steve.

The other thing that came up in addition to these kinds of card games and board games, is he also outlined some games such as Hotter, Colder and Red Light, Green Light, and he adapted them. Red Light, Green Light becomes stop and go, which are very functional. Hotter, Colder becomes more like yes and no. These kinds of games can help with children avoiding eye contact. It teaches them to maintain eye contact and pay attention in order to do the game well.

Steve Ward

On the podcast, we talk about how those sorts of games are excellent for teaching language, decision making, social cues, and problem-solving. Steve also told me that he came out with a second advanced version called 21 More Games.

He has other books too. Steve has been in the ABA field for over 2 decades. He is really quite an accomplished professional who really knows his stuff. So I highly recommend this book by Steve Ward, What You Need to Know About Motivation and Teaching Games and you can check out his other books through his website,

I hoped you liked this and you can check out the podcast interview as well, episode number 22. I’m sure you will love the book as much as I did. Wherever you’re watching or reading this, I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment, give me a thumbs up and share this video/article with others who might benefit. And for more information, you can attend a free online workshop at I hope to see you right here next week.

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