The idea of “play time” looks differently among the spectrum of children with special needs. Nevertheless, playtime is a fundamentally important component of a child’s mental and emotional health. Children with special needs are susceptible to depression and playtime is the perfect remedy to uplift their spirits and initiate laughs and fun.
As parents, trying to decipher fun for our children can be difficult, so here are some great ideas to jumpstart fun with your child(ren).
One language that is universally sound is the language of dance. It makes us smile, it’s exercise and it’s a way for us to connect. Although some children may not have complete mobility of their legs, I am sure they absolutely enjoy a dance party using whatever movement is possible for them! Break out disco lights, a wireless speakers and crank up the tunes of some of your child’s favorite artists (Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are at the top of that list for many teens for sure). The music is sure to put your child in a good mood.
Family Game Night
Games for us are not about how well you can play or whether you win, but more so about the bond that is created and the memories fostered. While I am not a board game enthusiast, I absolutely love the family time that comes with it. We talk, we laugh and it’s fun.
Gift of Gab
Sometimes the way to a child’s heart is by listening. Initiate a conversation with your child and gain perspective. As a parent with a special needs child that has limited abilities, we are always challenging our son to think outside of the box. We chat with him to gauge what activities he would be interested in doing or watching. For children like him, watching activities from the sidelines can be occasionally fun.
Food is a universal language as well. While some children are tube fed, they may have the opportunity to indulge in pleasure feedings. Take your child to one of their favorite eateries. This is always a fun time because it translates to being immersed in their happy place. This is also a great opportunity to bond and chat.
Get Out and Get Active
Although some children may have physical limitations, don’t allow that to stop the show if they are interested in the activity. There is nothing wrong with exploring activities to determine how they can be tailored to your child’s abilities. This is all about introducing new ideas and having fun along the way. Being active can be a family walk in the neighborhood or trip to the park.
Children that have special needs are full of charisma. Just like a child without a disability, they have their favorite things to do and places to go. Discover what those activities are and have fun! Our children thrive off our energy. We give them the will power to be courageous or sit along the sidelines.
Now, go have fun!
Ericka Polanco-Webb is a mom of five, Motherhood blogger and all around mom advocate encouraging moms to enjoy their journey, have fun and remember to keep BECOMING! Read more about Ericka and her family.