The Best Summer Activities For Children With Special Needs
By Sean Morris
Photo via Pixabay by Pexels
Summer is the time most kids look forward to all year; it brings the chance to relax, sleep in, play in the pool, and forget about homework and strict schedules.
For families with children who fall on the autism spectrum, however, summertime still needs to be filled with structure and activity in order to help the child feel safe and secure. It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to find things to fill the days, though, and it’s important to make sure that routine is present in order to keep things as stress-free as possible.
Here are some of the best activities to try with children who have special needs.
Sidewalk chalk, finger paint (you can make your own edible paint by using sweetened condensed milk and food coloring), and scrapbooks are wonderful ways to keep creative minds busy. If you have time, you can also take nature walks to find interesting leaves and shells to make art (or fairy houses) with.
Take a trip to the library and check out some books on subjects that interest your child. If it’s bugs and other creepy-crawly creatures, head to the local dollar store to find small jars, nets, a magnifying glass, and/or a plastic cage, then head out into the back yard to see what you can find together. If it’s a musician, movie star, or historical figure your child is interested in, see what you have around the house that they can use to play dress-up. Break out the makeup and get into it with your child. Showing that you have an interest in something they like can be a real self-esteem boost.
Working in the kitchen can teach a child responsibility and the joys of investing hard work into something that can have a beautiful outcome. If you know your way around the kitchen, consider giving your child a cooking or baking lesson. Figure out what you want to make together, shop for the ingredients, and instruct your child on how to gather everything you need and prepare it. Things might get a bit messy, but it’s important to let them do most of it themselves (outside of chopping with sharp knives). Be sure to reiterate the importance of oven safety and always supervise use of the stove.
Learn a new skill
Sit with your child and talk about a new skill that might be fun to learn together. You might choose to learn a new language, take up gardening, or learn creative writing. Duolingo is a great option for language lessons, as you can download the app and learn several different languages for free. If writing sounds appealing but you’re unsure of where to start, look through Pinterest or an art book and find a drawing or painting that jumps out at you. Begin your story about the subject of the piece of art and see where it takes you, and encourage your child to do the same. Read them aloud to each other.
Summer is a great time to have fun in the sun, but it’s important not to forget about safety. Check out your local swim club or Red Cross to see if there are swim classes available to children with special needs. Preparing your loved one early can help them feel safe and more comfortable in the water, and it will help give you peace of mind, as well. Children on the autism spectrum are usually very at ease in the water, so swim activities are a great way to keep them active and happy during warm months.
Filling your child’s days with sports, lessons, and games can help set a routine that makes them feel at ease, but it’s important to remember that it’s all very tiring, especially during hot days. Be sure to allow for plenty of rest so your child will be ready to take on the next challenge, and to minimize the chances of a meltdown.
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.