Parents of children with special needs often seek social opportunities for their children outside of school and may have trouble finding appealing options. It is important to find an activity that keeps your child happy and engaged with peers. Some options include local special recreation centers, special summer camps, and adapted sports programs. Learn about some activities for your child with special needs below!
There are summer camps that cater directly to the special needs community and tailor the activities to aid in the development of children of all ages and disabilities. MetroKids, for example, compiles a list of camps all over the country that are special needs friendly and that offer a variety of individualized activities. In the Chicagoland area alone, there are several camps that are run by therapists or even former campers that have “graduated” from the programs. Several camps take place out of local special recreation centers.
Summer camps such as these offer the opportunity for children to continue learning in a sensitive environment among trained professionals. Rather than worrying that their child may lose recently-learned skills over the summer, parents can relax knowing that their child is in good hands and having fun!
Local Recreation Centers
Many communities have special recreation centers that offer after-school or summer programs specifically designed for children and adults with disabilities. Depending on the center, there are a variety of programs that cater to different groups. There are programs for young children that focus on developing social skills, fine motor skills, and balance and coordination. There are also programs for teens that work to develop skills that will eventually help them live independently as an adult. Finally, special recreation centers may offer adapted sports programs, Special Olympics, and social inclusion programs. Explore options near you to find a center that provides an array of activities for your child, and read on to learn more about adapted sports programs!
Adapted Sports Programs
Sports are a large part of most children’s lives, and children with disabilities are no exception to this rule. Adapted sports programs exist all over the country in order to enable children with a wide variety of disabilities to participate.
The American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) is a national organization dedicated to standardizing adapted athletic programs by partnering with national, state, and local educational agencies. This organization hopes to ensure access to athletics and improve the physical well-being of students with disabilities. Other organizations follow a similar model and together are broadening the athletic opportunities for students with disabilities.
Since school isn’t in session, summer is a great time for families to spend time together doing activities. There are tons of websites and blogs that have activity ideas but two of our favorites are Children’s Village and Friendship Circle. These sites have many great engaging activities for the whole family, including sensory activities, safety activities, and more! Check out either of these sites for inspiration!