Missing Objects Game--Social skills therapy for kids with ASD

Components of a therapeutic game to teach autistic children how to encourage others during a game

All you need to play this great social skills game are word prompt cards (see the download link below) and a dozen or so small objects.

This is an easy, fun and very useful social skills game to help kids on the autism spectrum to  learn how to encourage others.  Children on the autism spectrum often need help learning to use kind and encouraging words.  This is a “game within a game.”  The object is to remember what item is missing when it is removed when the player is not looking.  The underlying game is to “score” lots of encouraging remarks to the other player when they are playing and it is not your turn.

To download the encouragement word prompt cards for this activity, click HERE.

  1. Assemble a collection of eight to twelve very small objects (very small toys, or even just assorted items out
    of a desk drawer).


    Missing Objects Game, a therapeutic game to teach children on the autism spectrum the social skill of encouraging others

    Here is the collection of random objects I keep handy so that I can play The Missing Objects Game with kids on the autism spectrum whenever I feel like it.


  2. Print out the Encouragement Word Prompts and keep them handy to display during the game.
  3. Tell the kids:

“We are going to play the Missing Objects Game.  This is a memory game that works like this.  I will place on the table these small objects.  When it is your turn, you will get one half a minute to look at the objects and try to remember them. Then, we will ask you to step out of the room for a few seconds.  While you are out, we will take away just one of the objects.  Then, you must try to figure out which object is missing!  This can be hard!While you are trying to remember what object is missing, the other kids have an important job.  They have to try their best to say nice things to you, to encourage you and to make you feel okay if you can’t figure out which object is missing.  I will keep track of who is being the nicest, and I will decide then who is first, second and third place at being nice and “encouraging” to the person who is trying to find the missing object.”

4.  Hold up the various encouraging phrase prompts to help the kids know what to say to the child who is trying to remember what is the “missing object.”

 I have found that kids really try hard to be the one who does the best “encouraging”  and that this becomes the main point of the game instead of correctly remembering the missing object.

Get out the encouragement prompts to use on other occasions when such skills are called for.

[Reference:  This is derived from a social skills book called Superskills, by Judith Couccouvanis.]

Joel Shaul, LCSW

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