As a social worker, families often ask me how to find recreational activities for their children with special needs and considerations. While time, location and cost can be factors in choosing the appropriate activity, they are not necessarily the most important.
Instead, I encourage families to look for:
- An activity in which the child shows interest
- An activity that can help the child develop socially, emotionally, and physically
- An activity that meets the child at their current developmental stage, yet leaves room for growth by challenging them in the future
So, then the question remains: Where do you find the perfect activity for your child?
Special Olympics offers a variety of sports activities for youth with special needs across different age and skill levels. Depending on your child’s development and level of independence, this type of activity may or may not be the best fit.
Community recreation centers also offer sporting activities. In some cases, these are available free or at reduced cost. Some townships or counties offer activities specifically for children with special needs, including Challenger League sports. Your town’s YMCA or other local gyms may also offer activities for kids including fitness classes or sports camps.
The only way to find out is to ask!
Art and music activities
For families with children who are more interested in the arts and music, there are plenty of options for you, too!
While traditional music therapy is referral based and coordinated through your healthcare providers, there are a few local music groups available to children with special needs that accept insurance or can provide receipts for reimbursement.
These agencies offer weekly music groups for children and their parents or caregivers. Not only will your child be exposed to music and movement, these groups also offer your child an excellent opportunity for socialization — which can be beneficial at any stage of development.
Ask for help
Feel free to ask your social worker or care team for more information about any of these resources at your next visit. Together, we can help find an activity that best fits your child’s needs, keeps them engaged, and offers them room to grow.