Staying at home day after day can make for long summer days, whether you have a child with a disability or not. Why not get out of the house with your child and try activities that can educate, help with sensory needs and be fun all at the same time? Listed below are a few ideas you could try this summer with your child.
The Wheels on the Bus. Most children love riding or going places. Why not incorporate something important like learning a bus route your child may need to travel one day? If your child uses a wheelchair for mobility this would be a great way to show them some skills to use toward independence and self determination! Make an afternoon of it and ride the bus with your child. Choose departure times during off-peak hours so you can get a seat next to a window and deal with fewer crowds. Bring along books and electronics with ear buds to keep your child engaged. You could write a story before the ride to introduce your child to the idea and talk about what to expect on a bus. Check out other public transportation options in your community as well.
Firehouse Visit. Call your local fire department and ask if you and your child can stop by for a quick visit to see the fire trucks and meet the firemen. If your child wanders, this is a great way to introduce them to first responders. If there’s time, perhaps they can talk to your child about what to do in an emergency, offer them safety tips and may even let them sit in a fire engine. Take pictures of your visit and make it into a social story to read later.
Jump Centers. Jump centers are private indoor arenas, filled with gigantic inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses and more. Some jump places offer special times for children with disabilities. It is definitely worth finding one near you and inquiring about jump times for children with disabilities.
Strolling the Mall. Malls are a great way to take advantage of someone else’s air conditioning on hot summer days. Malls are cool and not too crowded on the weekdays. It is a good way to keep your child moving and active as you walk back and forth in a controlled environment; less worries about children darting in front of traffic. Some stores offer interactive displays or indoor play areas that are fenced off and give you a break while your child plays. It’s also a great way to practice those power chair skills if your child uses a power wheelchair for mobility!
Sensory Friendly Films. Get up, dance, walk, shout, or sing! Some local theaters offer sensory-friendly screenings in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis. In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for individuals with sensory needs, the movie auditorium keeps their lights turned slightly up (some lights will remain on) and the sound turned slightly down. The movie (typically G- or PG-rated) won’t show previews or advertisements. Because some have strict, special dietary needs, families may be permitted to bring their own snacks from home.
Local parks. Find a park and swing with your child this summer. Swings are beneficial for physical, social and cognitive development, and they offer certain therapeutic benefits. They promote movement and perceptual skills, spatial awareness, general fitness and social interaction. If your child has trouble with crowds, visit the park in the morning during summer camp hours when it’s likely to be less crowded.