Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Summer fever has set in at my house; I say, why wait till the official start of the season for the kids to enjoy all its pleasures? Not only are these activities fun, they can be therapeutic for kids with special needs.
Get a sensory-friendly sprinkler
The streams from lawn sprinklers may be too strong for kids with sensory issues, but the ones on the 12-foot long Banzai Wigglin Water Sprinkler are light—and yes, they wiggle all over the place. We’ve had our Banzai for three years now, and the kids still adore it. Children who aren’t walking might enjoy the ClearWater Sprinkle ‘N Splash Play Mat, which has gentle water sprays that shoot upward. Both easily attach to a water hose.
Set up a car/trike wash
Buy a cheap coat rack and hang plastic pool noodles from it. Set a sprinkler to rain down on it. Have the kids ride their chosen vehicle through, push them or let them crawl or walk. You’ll be the most popular house in the neighborhood!
Paint with ice cubes
This tip’s from an occupational therapist I know: Just mix watercolor paint with water, fill an ice-cube tray (try a star-shaped one) and freeze. Use the cube paints on paper or fabric. Great for encouraging grasping—and sensory exploration.
Make fruit kabobs
Dice fruit into pieces: apples, bananas, peaches, whatever your child enjoys. Holding your hand over your child’s if necessary, help him thread them onto a skewer or even a popsicle stick. Great occupational therapy, great snack!
Create road trip games
If your child has a speech app, set up icons of things you’d spot on the road so he can play I Spy when you’re driving. You can also find fun road printable games at Darling Doodles and Ready Set Read.
Hit kiddie rides at off-peak times
What I’ve done: I call the amusement park’s manager, explain that my child has sensory issues and ask about the most quiet times at the park (usually right after opening and just before closing). There is a boardwalk pier with rides that Max loves; we visit it often during the summer. Since getting on and off rides can be an ordeal, I’ve asked staffers if he can stay on for another round if I pay, and they have always said yes.
Sign up for bike lessons
Held nationwide, iCanBike programs help kids ages 8 and up with disabilities learn how to ride a two-wheeler.
Go on a train joy ride
This one’s a favorite with my son, who’s obsessed with all things that go. It couldn’t be easier: We jump on the train and ride a few towns over. I bring snacks for a mini picnic. He stares out the window in fascination at the passing scenery. I do, too—or even better, I take a quick nap. Win win!