5 Ways To Scaffold An Activity For Your Child With Autism

5 ways to scaffold an activity for your child with autism reminds us that our number one priority should be to make our children successful.  This could be an activity at home, school, church or with the family. Every activity should be approached with the understanding that it has to be modified to the child’s ability. This should be the case whether or not your child has autism. Children will rise to your expectations if they believe in the depths of their soul that you want them to be successful.



Scaffolding an activity merely means that you break an activity down into more manageable chunks that the child can navigate successfully.  At church this meant pairing Logan up with Emma to help him write the answers on his paper.  At home it meant that I asked him to put away the silverware by handing it to him as well as opening the drawer where it lived.  You presume competence but also realize that modifications are inevitable. 

5 Ways To Scaffold An Activity For Your Child With Autism

  • Know your child’s zone of proximal development.  You can’t scaffold an activity without this information. I would never have Logan play a game designed for ages 8+ if he was developmentally age 6.  That would set him up for failure from the beginning.


  • Break the activity into steps for your child. If I want Logan to help me with dinner, I give him one task at a time. First, get the potato peeler. Second, tell him the number of potatoes he needs.. You can see that I don’t just tell him to peel potatoes for dinner. Once he achieved some developmental gains I was able to be less specific.
  • Always end the interaction successfully. This means ending a game early if you think your child has reached his limit. It can mean pretending to have a headache to leave the family get together early without drawing attention to the fact that your child can’t handle any more.
  • Do activities that are just one level above your child’s current level. If Logan is working at a first grade level then I would do an activity that was second grade but be there to help him. Does your child hate coloring? Outline the picture so it’s easier to color or buy bigger crayons.  Can’t do puzzles yet? Buy some preschool ones .


  • Let your child socialize with other children at his developmental level . For us this meant going to story time at the library when he was 8 so he could sit with the toddlers.  It meant still going to the children’s museum when he should be too old. It was easier to do since his little sister was 5 years younger so it looked like he was taggin along. If we didn’t have her then we went anyway. I stayed close by so I could intervene if necessary. 

Scaffolding becomes second nature to you the more you do it. All these years later, I do it without even thinking about it. There will be loud music at youth? Send earplugs with Logan so he doesn’t get overwhelmed. People coming over for game night. Pick a game that I know he likes to play . Scaffolding isn’t hard once you get the hang of it.  It will make a world of difference in your child’s life.  

5 ways to scaffold an activity for your child with autism gives practical advice to make interactions successful no matter what the activity.