5 ways for kids with special needs to enjoy summer fun

Summer is our favorite season (what can we say, we’re young at heart!), especially when it comes to family fun. But there’s no need for kids who have special needs to miss out on the celebrations. These five ideas will have them – and you! – hoping that autumn never arrives.

Spin and slide

Carnivals are pretty much the epitome of summertime fun, and Northbrook Days makes a special effort just for those with special needs. Mark Aug. 6 on your calendar, when the popular fest will be closed to the general public (9:30-11:30 a.m.) so that individuals with special needs (with their families and caregivers) can enjoy midway staples like the carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl and Fun Slide. Plus they’ll have caricature artists and entertainers to up the fun factor! Email nbkdays@gmail.com to register.

Splash on

Sadly, beach days will soon be a distant memory, but there’s still one more chance to make a splash at Naperville’s Centennial Beach. The final Special Needs Night of the season takes places on July 31 (6:30-8 p.m.), and it includes swimming in the shallow end, as well as access to the slide and water play features. Cost is $3, and no registration is required.

A day to play

The Play for All Playground is hosting free Play Days all summer long, complete with bubbles, face painting and flower planting projects. On Aug. 20, you can explore the awesome Sensory Garden Playground, which has a play area for kids 2-5, a sound garden with interactive instruments to try and gorgeous plants that will brighten any day. Be sure to check out the new “Musical Mare” sculpture, which is specially designed for kids with autism.

Learning fun

When the heat gets to be a little too much, head indoors for some educational fun. DuPage Children’s Museum hosts Third Thursdays each month, which allow kids with special needs to enjoy the museum when it’s not quite as busy or loud (the next one is 5-7 p.m. July 21). And at Chicago Children’s Museum’s Play for All events, the various exhibits, including the new Zoom Room, are open exclusively for kids with special needs. Plus, the first 250 visitors are free (registration is required)! Next month’s event is 9-10 a.m. Aug. 13.

Race to the finish

This is one race where you don’t have to work out 24/7 in order to win! The Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby on Aug. 4 (10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) is a cutthroat competition … featuring 50,000 adorable yellow rubber ducks. During the festivities, enjoy face painting, games, food and appearances by sports mascots. Best of all, the race benefits Special Olympics Illinois, which definitely gets our quack of approval.

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