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What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

This is a discussion on What are some activities suitable for children with special needs? within the Parenting Special Needs Child forum, part of the MummySG Special Group category; Hi all mummies, I would like to find out if sports and particularly what kind of activities are suitable for ...

  1. #1
    Female Attendant wencyw's Avatar
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    What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

    Hi all mummies,

    I would like to find out if sports and particularly what kind of activities are suitable for children with mild autism? I have intentions to try sports like rollerblading and taekwondo.

    I am looking for June School Holiday Courses and would like some recommendations.

  2. #2
    Imperial Concubine jojoki's Avatar
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    Re: What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

    i think art will be good for them eg paiting... drawing.. some autistic kids are really good at art. check out this site .
    Activities for Autistic Children - LoveToKnow Autism

  3. #3
    Worthy Lady
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    Re: What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

    I think it really depends on what your child enjoys and what he's good at.
    He definitely has smth that he's good at you could let him do it building his confidence and making him happy

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    Re: What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

    I think the best person to ask this question would be the particular child's occupational therapist. Children with ASD, even those on the mild side of the spectrum, usually have lots of sensory processing difficulties and with non appropriate (for the particular child) activities you may trigger some unwanted behaviors/reactions. For some children with autism stimulating exercises such as jumping on the trampoline, doing heavy workout like wheelbarrow walking etc. will be calming and regulating, while to others it may be overstimulating and they need more calming exercises.
    Without knowing the need of the child you want to take care of, it is really hard to say what kind of activities are the best. Maybe you will find helpful one article that comes from the two latest issues of American magazine called "Autism/Aspergers Digest" on sensory integration activities to be done with kids at home:

    A child who struggles with sensory processing challenges is a child in need, indeed. And, there is so much we can do to help! There are practical proven strategies for reducing oversensitivities and undersensitivities, and modifying tasks and environments to support success while we build underlying sensory processing skills.
    Foremost among these strategies is what's called a "sensory diet", a term coined by Patricia Wilbarger, an occupational therapist, a clinical psychologist and a leading expert in the area of sensory defensiveness. OTs use the term on an everyday basis to describe scheduled activities that give a person the input he or she needs to function in a "just right" state (neither overstimulated or understimulated). Diet's a funny word because it makes you think of eating, but it's an appropriate reference here too. Just as we need food on a daily basis, some children need daily sensory activities to survive and thrive in the world. Diet is also defined as "a manner of living" and "habitual nourishment." For a child with sensory processing issues, a sensory diet meets all of these definitions: it's 24/7 nourishment, it requires an adjustment in everyday life until it becomes a habit, and it's just as essential as eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Adults engage in sensory diet activities all the time to maintain an optimal level of arousal and alertness for a given task. To rev up for a busy day with the kids or for a long day at work, you might take a brisk shower, drink some coffee, and listen to music while getting dressed. You might chew gum, sip water, or jiggle your foot to stay focused. At the end of the day, you might go to the gym, do some yoga stretches, take a warm bath or drink some herbal tea or a glass of wine to unwind. As an adult, you have developed the self-awareness to anticipate daily demands, and find tools that allow you to stay more or less on an even physical and emotional keel. My strategies may differ from yours, but that's OK as long as they fulfill our needs.
    Your child doesn't necessarily know how to do this - or, as often the case, is not allowed to do this. A child who needs to get up and move around for few moments during circle time may be reprimanded to sit down and stop fidgeting. A child who self comforts orally may not be allowed to chew gum, drink water, or have a crunchy snack when her body needs it. And a child who struggles with body awareness, low muscle tone, or a poorly functioning vestibular system may end up flopping on the floor or bumping into desks, walls, and other kids because his nervous system requires this input.
    Kids whose bodies need particular types of sensory input tend to do exactly what they need to obtain that input, sometimes in ways you may not particularly like. Your child may love to hang upside down, jump on the bed, spin in circles, crash into furniture and other kids, chew on nonfood objects. Some, but not all, "self-stimulatory" behaviors can be attempt to obtain much-needed sensory input that either revs up or slows down a poorly functioning nervous system. At other times self-stims act as a coping mechanism until the child figures out to ward off or deal with sensory overload.
    A sensory diet, created jointly with a knowledgeable occupational therapist, can help meet sensory needs in safe, predictable, effective ways. The goal is to give your child - or yourself, for that matter - the right type of sensory input in regular, controlled doses so there's no need to resort to unwanted behaviors. Instead of bulldozing into you or other children to get deep pressure input, your child can leap into a safely arranged "crash pad" or pound a punching bag. Instead of chewing on a pencil or a chair leg or hand, your child can chomp on a safe, age appropriate "chewy". Instead of bouncing off the walls at dinner time, he can bounce for a specified number of minutes on a mini-trampoline before it's time to sit down at the table.

    Because each child is unique, there is no cookbook recipe for creating a sensory diet. The starting point is to look at your child's behaviors, especially those you find a little quirky. Generally speaking, a child whose nervous system is on "high trigger/too wired" needs more calming input, while the child who is more "Sluggish/too tired" needs more arousing input. Interestingly, many of the same activities can meet both sets of needs. "Heavy work" that uses the larger muscles and joints of the body - such as climbing, pounding, pushing and pulling - makes us feel grounded within our bodies, which is especially beneficial for the child who needs help to self- regulate.
    While each person's likes and dislikes are obviously different, activities that are slow, rhythmic, and repetitive tend to be more soothing, while those that are more rapid and less predictable tend to be more alerting. Finding the perfect activity to achieve that optimal state - not too tired and not too wired - takes some detective work, creativity, and empathy. Remember that what might soothe you could overstimulate your child. And, that a child may need both types input as part of his sensory diet. Few children are always hyper or always lethargic. The right combination of sensory input is something you will need to figure out together, hopefully with the help of a qualified occupational therapist.

    20 Easy-To-Do Sensory Diet Activities
    1. Jump on a mini-trampoline, bouncy pad, or mattress placed on the floor.
    2. Spin on a Sit N'Spin, Dizzy Disc Jr., or office chair.
    3. Rock in a rocking chair, glider, or on a hobby horse.
    4. Go to the playground; use slides and swings.
    5. Do jumping jacks, floor pushups or wall pushups.
    6. Ride a tricycle or bicycle.
    7. Go swimming.
    8. Climb up and down stairs.
    9. Do wheelbarrow walking, with ankles held (or with upper thighs supported for very young children and those with decreased upper body strength).
    10. Squish between sofa cushions ("sandwich") or roll up in a blanket ("make a burrito").
    11. Take a warm bath or shower.
    12. Play in a sandbox or use a sensory bin filled with uncooked rice and beans or other materials.
    13. Inhale favored essential oil or other fragrances.
    14. Use a weighted blanket, vest, lap pad, or other weighted item.
    15. Eat chewy or crunchy foods or chew gum.
    16. Drink thick liquids through a straw.
    17. Play a musical instrument or bang on pots and pans.
    18. Listen to preferred music over speakers or with headphones.
    19. Use a vibrating item such as a Squiggle Wiggle Writer, vibrating pillow, or oral vibrator.
    20. Sit in a quiet "safe space" with soft lighting.
    Part 2
    In the March-April 2010 issue, I reviewed the concept of "sensory diet", the term occupational therapists (OTs) and others use to describe scheduled activities that provide sensory input at regular intervals throughout the day.
    Like a child with hypoglycemia, the child with sensory challenges benefits from frequent, small, nourishing "sensory snacks" to feel and function optimally all day long. Just waiting for :OT time:, even if you are lucky enough to get 60 minutes 3-5 times a week, simply isn't enough. Kids with sensory processing difficulties need appropriate sensory input 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to feel and function well. Yes, we even have sensory needs while we are sleeping! That's why it's so important that everyone get involved - parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, baby-sitters, teachers and bus drivers.
    Listed below are some ideas to get you started on your own. If you are working with an OT, your therapist is likely to give you other recommendations, which may include Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (commonly called brushing), a therapeutic listening program, an oral sensitization program, a vestibular program, and other activities to carry out on a regular basis.
    Some of the suggestions below are quite easy to implement, like providing a hand fidget at home. If an idea works well, you may ask that it be formally added to your child's IEP so he can use it at school. Your parents or in-laws may think you are being silly when you bring along your child's own pillow, sheets, and blanket fora sleepover, but that's okay. What's important is that you discover what helps your child and then advocate for it - and ultimately teach your child to advocate for himself too.
    Morning Routine
    begin with the wake-up process early enough so neither you nor your child are rushed
    if your child wakes up irritable, start with a gentle backrub or footrub, and favorite music played at a low level. Raise lights slowly. Speak gently and softly.
    Sandwich your child between pillows and give deep pressure if he prefers this type of touch. Check to be sure he's still enjoying it!
    have the child take a shower or quick bath at preferred temperature (some like it hot, others not)
    provide her with a vibrating toothbrush
    offer a nutritious breakfast that includes protein
    have the child drink thick liquids through a straw
    to rev up a sluggish child or soothe a bouncy one, have him jump on a mini-trampoline or dance to favorite music
    incorporate heavy work: have your child carry a reasonably weighted backpack, take the stairs instead of elevator, walk, ride, or scooter to school
    if your child takes the bus, give him a hand fidget, weighted lap pad, and/or favorite music on an MP3 player

    Every 2-3 hours throughout the school day/work day
    at school, all students should have an opportunity for "sensory snack breaks" such as getting up to walk, march, do animal walks, stretch, do wall push-ups, jumping jacks, or other sensory-organizing physical activity
    the ideal classroom offers non-coercive opportunities to explore a variety of interesting textures such as clay, sand, papier mache, and other craft materials. Announce that any child is allowed to use a paintbrush or wear gloves if he can't tolerate the feeling
    encourage the child to drink water frequently
    provide a hand fidget such as small Koosh ball, hand exercise ball or putty. If your child tends to throw objects, sew a durable fabric tab on to your child's clothing or clip the fidget to a belt loop
    provide chewing gum if allowed, or another oral comfort item (sucking candy, Dr. Bloom's Chewable Jewels, Chewlery, Pencil Toppers)
    have her wear a weighted vest, lap pad, or other weighted wearable according to your OT's time limits
    give him an inflatable cushion on a chair or floor that enables the child to bounce and wiggle without getting up
    if sounds or sights tend to be overwhelming, allow the child to take a break in a prearranged quiet, low stimulation spot

    After school/work

    make sure the child gets intense vestibular and proprioceptive input to get the "ya-yas" out: go to the playground or gym, attend a yoga or active exercise class, take the stairs instead of elevator, jump on a trampoline, do wheelbarrow walking, use spinning toys, jump on a "crash pad" of sofa cushions or bean bags
    have the child eat a small, healthful snack
    provide some down time before asking the child to do homework
    provide a quiet, organized space with non-glare, no-flicker lighting for homework
    have the child help with cooking activities: measuring, mixing and chopping
    provide additional heavy work opportunities prior to sitting down for dinner: carry heavy plates, help carry dishes, move chairs etc.


    develop a predictable evening routine that is soothing and organizing. try to maintain the routine even when the child sleeps elsewhere for a night, bringing along favorite bedtime items, a familiar pillow, and so on
    have the child take a bath or shower before bed only if it is soothing for him. Some kids need to bathe much earlier or in the morning because it is too alerting at the end of the day
    usually deep pressure works well at bedtime. Gently squish your child between pillows, and provide a massage. Occasionally, very active kids may need a bout of roughhousing before they can calm down for bed
    experiment with lightning. some kids like nightlights, while other's can't tolerate even the tiny LED light on clocks, computers, or other electronics (cover these if so)
    experiment with sound. Some kids self-soothe with lullabies, white noise CDs, or classical music while others fall asleep more easily to rock and roll.
    experiment with temperature and bedding. Some children need the room to be significantly cooler or warmer than you'd think. Make sure bedclothes dont't have annoying seams and waistbands. Make sure linens and blankets are comfortable and the preferred weight. Some people have had excellent results with weighted blankets

    There's no cookbook recipe for creating a successful sensory diet. Ideally, you are working with an OT who can guide you on what activities work best to calm your child when he's wired, and pep him up when he's tired. It takes some trial and error to discover the activities best suited to your child. When you do, resist to temptation to thing you've got "THE plan", though. What works one day may not necessarily work the next because of the inconsistently functioning nervous system that is the hallmark of a child with sensory processing problems. As a sensory smart parent, learn to read your child, be flexible and creative, and then implement the strategies as needed to empower your child to feel and function better each and every day.

    Learn more about implementing a sensory diet at home and school on the sensorysmarts.com website, and in Raising a Sensory Smart Child
    Both articles were written by an American occupational therapist Lindsey Biel

  5. #5
    Moderator Angelmum's Avatar
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    Re: What are some activities suitable for children with special needs?

    Quote Originally Posted by katieh View Post
    Part1 - 20 Easy-To-Do Sensory Diet Activities

    Part 2 - Morning Routine to bedtime

    Both articles were written by an American occupational therapist Lindsey Biel

    the activities are also beneficial for other special needs child, like mine .... slowly lahh, unable to do all yet.

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