Can Autistic Kids Play Chess? [5+ More Games They Like]

Can Autistic Kids Play Chess

Chess: A Game of Strategy and Benefits for Autistic Children

Chess, with its rich history and reputation as a game of intellect and strategy, has gained significant popularity worldwide. While it may seem like a complex game reserved for experts, chess can be an excellent activity for children with autism. The unique characteristics of autistic children, such as their attention to detail, logical thinking, and focus, make them well-suited for the game. In fact, chess can provide numerous benefits to autistic kids, helping them develop various skills and fostering their social interactions.

Chess and Social Skills

Encouraging Contact and Autonomy

For example, it is said that using chess to train the social skills of autistic children can be very effective. Chess encourages contact with others, providing a platform for interaction and communication. However, it allows children to decide, at their own pace, the extent to which they will seek contact with others. This autonomy is essential for individuals on the autism spectrum who may have varying levels of comfort with socializing.

Strategic Thinking and Problem-Solving

Chess involves strategic thinking and problem-solving, requiring players to analyze the game board, anticipate opponents’ moves, and plan their own strategies. Autistic children often possess a remarkable ability to focus on details and patterns, making them well-suited for the game. Chess allows them to channel their attention and logical thinking into a structured and engaging activity, helping them develop their cognitive abilities.

Diagnostic Value of Chess

Illuminating Thinking and Behavior Patterns

Chess can even be used as a diagnostic tool to assess a child’s thinking and behavior patterns. As an expert in the field, the speaker has found that observing a child’s approach to chess can reveal valuable insights. Certain patterns, such as an inclination towards planning ahead or a focus on specific moves, can indicate particular cognitive tendencies. This diagnostic aspect of chess can assist professionals in understanding a child’s cognitive strengths and challenges, leading to more tailored interventions and support.

Other Games for Autistic Children

Variety and Preferences

While chess offers unique benefits, it’s important to note that not every sport or game requires high-level communication and cooperation. Some children with autism may have specific preferences when it comes to games and activities. Exploring a variety of options can help identify the games that resonate most with them. Here are some popular games enjoyed by kids with autism other than chess:

  • Battleship
  • Mastermind
  • Animal On Animal
  • Chinese Checkers
  • Scrabble
  • Candyland

These games provide different types of engagement and can cater to the individual interests and strengths of autistic children.

Sports and Social Connection

Building Relationships and Teamwork

Participating in sports can also play a vital role in helping children with autism connect with their peers and foster a sense of belonging. Engaging in team activities provides opportunities to make new friends, learn to work together, and develop a sense of pride in their community. Sports offer a structured environment that promotes social interactions and teamwork, aiding in the development of social skills and self-confidence.

The Impact of Video Games

Benefits and Challenges

An excellent study conducted by Micah Mazurek and Christopher Englehart highlights the impact of video games on children affected by autism. The study found that many autistic kids are highly focused on video game play. While video games can offer benefits such as improved hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills, they may also present challenges. Some children may struggle with transitioning from video games to other activities, leading to frustration or oppositional behavior when they want to continue playing.

Sensory Toys for Autistic Children

Exploring Sensory Stimulation

In addition to games and sports, sensory toys can be valuable tools for engaging autistic children and providing sensory stimulation. Here are ten of the best sensory toys for children with autism:

  1. Sensory Mats
  2. Rainmaker Toys
  3. Fidget Spinners
  4. Chew Toys
  5. Sand, Slime, or Putty
  6. Pin Art
  7. Electric Dog Pet
  8. Senseez Vibrating Cushion

These toys offer various tactile and sensory experiences, helping children with autism explore their senses and find comfort and enjoyment in their environment.


In conclusion, chess can be an excellent game for autistic children, harnessing their unique abilities and fostering social interaction and cognitive development. While each child is different and may have individual preferences, exploring a range of games and activities can help parents and educators identify the ones that resonate most with their child. Additionally, participating in sports and engaging with sensory toys can further enhance the overall development and well-being of autistic children. By embracing their strengths and providing appropriate opportunities, we can help them thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

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