Having a special needs child comes with unique challenges, and as a parent you’re already probably aware of that fact. However one particularly unique challenge is finding ways to keep your child active in a world where many special needs children can’t participate in certain activities.
Still, staying active is extremely important for every child. Use the tips below to make sure your son or daughter gets the exercise they need and builds healthy habits to take with them into their adult years.
When it comes to finding activities for your child. Sure, the standard active tasks like playing at the playground, team sports or basic exercises like jumping jacks might be the first things that come to mind, but those aren’t the only activities that your child can do.
Simply dancing to upbeat music, taking a walk, tossing a ball or playing with a pet are all activities that children love. You don’t have to limit your activities to only one, either. There’s nothing wrong with switching between activities to keep your child interested in what they’re doing.
Find activities that your child really enjoys and try to make them part of their regular routine. The actual activity isn’t as important as the exercise, but you may need to try a few different things before you find something that they will stick with and works with your work and their school schedule.
Get your child involved in organizations that promote special needs sports and activities. While your child may not be able to join the competitive baseball or basketball team at school, there are plenty of programs out there designed to support and encourage children with special needs, even if they aren’t found at your child’s school.
Do your research and find something in your area that your child will want to participate in.
Find fitness accessories made specifically for your child and their needs. For example, there are bicycles out there for children who have certain special needs and who need help doing things like riding a bicycle.
While there are many products out there that can be very expensive, there are many that are incredibly affordable and no more than a standard child’s bicycle or tricycle. Plus, your child will love the freedom of being able to ride on their own while you watch them.
Make sure your child can get out of whatever activity you are doing quickly. For example, if your child becomes frustrated or bored with activity, it’s important that they know that they can stop.
This will help give them a sense of control over the activities and fitness level, and in that way, will help empower and encourage them. They’ll also be more likely to be responsive to other suggestions of physical activity in the future.
Finding activities that are ideal for special needs children can seem tough. However, it isn’t impossible.
If you have a community of special needs parents you commonly talk to, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for advice and tips.
Tara Heath is a freelance writer who resides in California. She currently writes for the California Special Needs Law Group Blog as well as other sites involving children and health. In her free time she loves to stay active by playing tennis and hiking.
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