Family fun activities for all children, including those with special needs.

My youngest child, son Stuart, feeding the deer in the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario.

 

If you have a child with special needs, you encounter the same joys as every other parent, but your challenges may be a little different.

 

Do you ever wish you could tell your fellow parent friends how easy they have it, with seemingly countless activities to go to with their child?

 

Although your child may have limited mobility or a disability that prevents him or her from doing some of the same things that his or her peers do, there are plenty of inclusive activities for the family to enjoy.

Above: Feeding the deer in the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario, Canada.

Here are some ideas to get you started in planning a fun day.

 

Reconnect with nature and wildlife.

 

If your child uses a wheelchair, you may only be able to access the paved trails around your community.

While this can make for a nice walk or bike ride, you may not see much wildlife or be able to get out when the weather is cold or rainy.

A zoo, aquarium or even arboretum is a great way to see wildlife in a temperature controlled environment.

Most zoos have indoor and outdoor exhibits, and many of the paths are wide and flat, making them accessible.

Some zoos offer open enclosures where the children can interact with the wildlife, even feeding them if it’s within the zoos acceptable rules.

If you don’t have a facility nearby, check out your local greenhouse or wildlife center.

 

Cook a meal together.

 

Tips and tricks to encourage your kids to eat their greens.

If you’re like most families, you may find it hard to sit down together as a family for dinner (let alone make a meal together).

Designate a night to spend time in the kitchen together. Choose a task that your child with special needs may enjoy.

Does he or she have a favorite food?

Let him or her plan the meal or be in charge of stirring or other tasks.

Cooking is something that can be done by anyone, regardless of ability.

 

Visit an arcade or bowling alley.

 

Check with the bowling alleys in your community and see if they have accessible lanes or have adaptive equipment.

If your kids like video games, take them to an arcade and show them what the gaming world used to look like. Show them how to play pinball, whack-a-mole, or skeeball.

Have a friendly competition to see who can bring home the biggest prize.

 

Host a dance party.

 

Dancing is a great way to get exercise, socialize, and have fun; yes, even children who use wheelchairs can dance.

Look at spaces in your community, such as a community room at a hotel or your church basement.

Invite your family and friends and make it a theme party or just a chance to enjoy some time with others who like to dance.

 

Take a class.

 

Whether you want to learn about cooking or want to brush up on yoga, taking a class as a family is a great way to connect.

Community education courses typically offer adaptive classes. If none are available, talk with the instructor in the class and see if they can make the class accessible for all.

 

Go to a movie.

 

Are you tired of fighting over the remote?

Why not see a movie in the theater?

Pay more for the popcorn, go to a matinee, and get the 3D glasses.

Even though you may spend a few hours not talking, you can bond while talking about the movie after it’s over.

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