Picture your child as an adult doing an activity they enjoy and spending time among people who care about them in the community. They are having fun, learning, growing and making connections in the world. They are also safe and supported.
How can you and your child find these activities? What’s a good fit? How will your child get to an activity and who will go with them? This page has a collection of tips and ideas from other parents of children and young adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs. It shares how they found recreational and social activities to fit their child’s interests, needs and abilities.
It can feel overwhelming to think about your child’s future all at once. It will take some looking and planning, but there are choices out there. Start with one idea or activity to explore.
As your child becomes a teenager or an adult, you’re probably thinking about their quality of life and their future. Will they go to college or another school? Will they work or have a career? How will they fill their days? How can they find things they enjoy doing
Parents ask themselves these same questions all the time. This is especially true as their child gets ready to transition out of school, losing the structure and activities school offers.
Social and recreational activities are important because they offer a good time and connections with others. They can help fill your child’s day and life. Isn’t that what growing up is all about, exploring new things?
The first questions to ask yourself are: “What does my child like doing? What do they show interest in?” Involve your child in these questions as much as you can.
Maybe your child likes to sing or likes music. Maybe they like anime or art. Maybe they seem to like being outside or around animals. Maybe they really like more structure, or less. Just like you, your child has things that attract them. These are the clues to get started finding recreational and social activities.
Ask around and search online for activities that fit your child’s interests. Pay attention to who or what organization is running the program. Parents told us they try to figure out if it is an established program or organization. Does it seem like it’s going to stick around? While some families may want to check out different events, others are looking for an activity their child can stay with for a while if they like it.
Work or volunteering can also be social and recreational for some teenagers and adults. Certain companies and organizations are looking for diverse volunteers and staff. Where could your child work or volunteer? See our page on careers.
Also, don’t be afraid to approach organizations and companies that don’t seem to have programs or classes designed for people with disabilities. You can always ask them, “What do you think about including my child?” Pay attention to their attitude and reaction. Read on for more tips on starting something new.
For any activity, find out:
To get you started in finding an activity, we have a list from parents with some programs in Texas and places to look for activities. We hope they inspire even more ideas for your family.
Find many ideas when you search in our Find Services, Groups, and Events section on this website. For example, if you search “recreation” hundreds of choices come up. You can organize the search by other key words and by your city or zip code in Texas.
Texas Project First keeps a list of recreation and travel options for children with disabilities and their families. Here are some other programs:
Here are other places to look for clubs, activities, classes, events, volunteering and more:
Just because certain programs are offered for adults with disabilities, they still might not fit your child’s needs and interests. Don’t be afraid to work with your child to start something new if you have a good idea and the energy to try it. You could create an activity or start a partnership with a company.
If you are talking to an organization that is happy to work with you and your child, but it doesn’t design or offer a program for people with disabilities and special healthcare needs, here are some ways you can help set up the relationship for success:
As long as they are willing to spend time getting to know your child, this could be the start of a strong, trusting relationship.
For some adults and teenagers with disabilities and special health-care needs, their computer or phone is a good way to connect with others and find an activity. This might be especially true for families in smaller towns or rural areas far from community organizations or for a child who does best at home because of their health care needs. You know your child best and what might keep their attention.
We are talking about live virtual activities that other people around the state, country or world are a part of at the same time as your child. There are many other choices for recorded or live streamed videos for recreation.
Here are a few virtual recreational activity ideas other parents have told us about to get you started:
After you and your child have picked an activity, take a deep breath and give it a try. It’s a learning experience, no matter how it goes the first time. Maybe you need to make some changes. Maybe your child needs to warm up and go a few times. Maybe it really was not right for them and you move on, or it was the perfect opportunity, and your child loves it. It’s all part of the process of building a full life with experiences and community connections.
On this website: