Get out and learn something new! Yes, I know! Getting out with a special needs child is a lot of work. Add siblings to the mix and getting out can easily turn into a nightmare. Here’s the secret: learning can take place ANYWHERE! That’s right, even in your own backyard.
Have you ever tried taking your child camping? Either way, pitch a tent in the backyard. Safely light up a small bon fire for roasting marshmallows and make some s’mores. Enjoy lying under the stars with your little one. Right there I just listed a ton of learning opportunities that can be both fun and soothing to your special needs child. As a bonus, you can teach them all about fire safety, camping and even the constellation.
Feeling savvy enough to journey away from your home? Look to your local community rec center for special needs programs that would benefit your child. They often have daily programs and weekly programs such as swimming, sports and even summer learning programs.
Don’t stop there! Summer is filled with fun events to keep you and your family out learning and exploring every day if you wish. Check out your local children’s museum, look online for festivals or start a special needs meet up group on www.meetup.com that will keep you on your toes this summer.
The possibilities to learn during the summer months are endless; never be afraid to take advantage of them. Even though outings may be a disaster today, keep going! By the end of summer, you may find that your special needs child just needed a little exposure to some serious outings to rid the chaos in the first place.
Perhaps you try to avoid outings due to public displays of behavior. Print out or make your own disability cards. These are cards that state, for example, “My child has autism. Autism is a disability that delays or prevents social and communication abilities. She/he is not misbehaving, what you are seeing today is a direct result of autism. We appreciate your understanding.” You can personalize it to state whatever you would like if you are making them yourself; otherwise, you can find plenty of printable versions online. It may be hard to pass out the first card, but I cannot describe the relief I feel when I hand one to someone that my child has displayed behaviors in front of. It just takes the edge off!
Be sure to check out last week’s tip and to tune in next week for tip #3!
– Michelle O’Neill, AHSS Lead Skills Coach and mother to a special needs child, plus 2!