Parents of special needs children often find themselves with some very tough choices when it comes to planning a family fun day. What activities are safe? Which will provide the most opportunities for family bonding? Will the activity be over-stimulating? What about other children in the family? Will they feel included or will it hurt them or cause resentment if the activities are always obviously scaled for the special needs child?
5 Fair Weather Activities for Families with Special Needs Children
Fortunately, there are quite a few fun and educational family activities that all members of the family can participate in without feeling left out, bored or resentful. Here are a few that will benefit you by giving you special bonding time with your children, and will benefit your entire family by expanding their knowledge on often, critical life issues.
Practicing Escape Routes
You can make this as serious or as lighthearted as you like. Cater that ideal to what you think your own children will receive better. Should you draw up serious ‘schematics’ or perhaps allow them to dress in ninja outfits while you walk each of them through their escape route in case of fire or other household emergencies? This is a good time for serious questions and serious bonding. If your special needs child would need assistance in escaping the home, make sure you have a plan of action for how that will be carried out as well. Before you end the lesson, make sure to ask to see if they have any questions while letting them know absolutely, that there are no silly questions. No parent wants any of their children terrified or worrying about a fire in their home, so it’s always good, no matter how little they are, to let them know that although its unlikely, you still need to practice your given escape route.
Family Finger Paint
One issue parents of special needs children have with the whole painting idea, is how safe the paint is. Their systems may not be as strong as healthier children who can take a spoonful of inedible paint and end up with just a tummy ache. Here’s the fix for a fun (but sticky) day of fingerpainting. Simply use Sweetened Condensed Milk with a few drops of food coloring. All of the children will enjoy a tasty paint experience and the activity will be safe for everyone. You won’t really need too much so you shouldn’t end up with any achy sweet bellies later. Just perhaps some energetic children for a bit after the painting session and you know where you can wear out some of that excess energy? The bathtub. Bye, lingering sticky residue!
Learn Rewarded Chores
It’s always ideal to hold all of your children to a basic standard. However, in some cases, your special needs children will just not be able to pick up their toys, or put away their crayons. But just like your other children, they can participate in some chore that will be rewarded, such as in the case of allowances for completing basic tasks around the home. For the younger children, use basic needs for chore tasks, such as brushing their own teeth or holding their own drinking cup. As they grow, you can scale those tasks to meet their expected developmental range. There are many small tasks older children can carry out, use your imagination to come up with the easier but needed tasks around the home. Emptying the dryer lint trap, putting on a new roll of toilet paper when it’s empty, or even something as simple as watering the household plants.
Petting Farm or Zoo
Most children will be absolutely thrilled to spend the day petting fluffy sheep and having goats screaming around them. Find a local petting farm that will have the accommodations you’ll need for your special needs child and head on down. Let all the children enjoy the feel if digging their little hands into the fluffy coats of the animals. You’ll have some great opportunities for photo shots on this adventure too!
Browse Your Family History
You won’t be able to expect any of your children to recognize the faces of all of your relatives in your photo album until they are a good bit older, but you can help to increase your children’s social skills by playing somewhat of a memory game with those familiar faces. Have them learn to remember what Aunt Diana or Uncle Ted look like and you’ll actually be training your children’s brains to search for recognition in faces. This is also a great idea for when holidays are rolling around or a family reunion is in the works. Not only will your children feel more comfortable with those faces when they start showing up, but those showing up will certainly be treated to warm feelings when your littles don’t shy away and knows who they are.