January 13, 2016 | By: Kelli Zermeno
This is a gorgeous time of year in our region. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning colors, and fall is in the air. So how do we make the most of it? Some children with disabilities are sensitive to touch and texture—they love it or they hate it. Going on a “sensory hike” could be a great way to let your child guide the way and have an opportunity to touch, see, and feel a world of new things.
Take your time. Don’t feel obligated to rush or try to make your child touch things that upset them. Let them set the pace. Be sure to take snacks, water, insect repellant, and sunscreen. Don’t forget a bag for collections and a bug box or net if your child is interested in that.
A walk through the trees, the lake or even the Ft. Davis mountain area can be a lot of fun. Plan well and don’t feel the need to be out there all day. If your child is sensitive to sunlight, an evening excursion to check out the Marfa Lights or the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis could be a fun and interesting option too.
The Observatory offers wheelchair access, hearing devices and even a wheelchair accessible telescope at the visitor’s center. You may qualify for an “accessible” pass to drive your vehicle to the top of the research facility to view the big telescope—be sure to check. Have a picnic under the stars or in the back of your vehicle. If your child enjoys it, maybe set up a pop up tent, build a little campfire, have a weenie roast or s’mores. A tiny tailgating grill can be purchased at many retail stores for about $10. Be sure to check with your local wildlife department on current drought conditions and fire requirements.
Take flashlights to catch a glimpse of nocturnal wildlife. Catch fireflies. Whatever activity you choose, above all else … have fun. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect or an all-day activity. If your child can only handle an hour, then make that hour enjoyable. At the end of the day, you don’t want your child to feel overwhelmed and have a meltdown.
If you are feeling adventurous enough for a camp out, there are many sites locally such as San Angelo, Alpine or Balmorhea that offer accommodations. Balmorhea offers wheelchair accessible bathrooms and ramps as well as a hand rail to assist entry into the pool. Bring a few comforting items from home to ease your child into the new experience and consider the fact that your child may not be willing to camp out all night yet. That is OK. Every new experience is an important step in teaching your child new things. Even if things don’t work out exactly as you’d hope, be proud of yourself for trying and showing your child something new.
Take a look at the Wheelchair Accessible Wildlife Viewing Sites in Texas page and explore the Texas Parks and Wildlife for more parks across the state.
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