Top Ten Winter Weekend Activities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

Top Ten Winter Weekend Activities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

The weekend. This small phrase could evoke relaxing thoughts or overwhelming weariness. The upheaval of the normal schedule for two days can be tricky to navigate for families of special needs individuals, where routine often brings a sense of security and normalcy. To avoid utter boredom, frantic mayhem, or anything in between on the weekend, it’s helpful to find scheduled, supervised, engaging, and fun activities. So far, this all makes sense. But add in the factor of fluctuating (or just plain cold) wintertime weather, and the task to find fun activities can become just as overwhelming as not having any activities at all.

Don’t dread your weekends with your kids or adults who have special needs. We’ve compiled a list of ten winter weekend activity options recommended for special-needs individuals. Some activities require snow; some can be done on your back porch or in the living room.

 

Helpful Hints to Know Before Planning

First, a few suggestions to make winter weekend activities as helpful as possible:

  1. Have a calendar. Put it somewhere visible; make it as big and as fun and as normal as you can. Keeping your family’s daily norms (wake up, breakfast, lunch, bath time, nap time, etc.) the same through the weekend can help individuals with special needs realize that Saturday and Sunday are normal days too. Add in different activities in bright colors to create positive anticipation for fun events in the middle of a normal day.
  2. Schedule some quiet time. Remember that everyone needs the weekend to recharge before the next week. Make sure you allow for time for special needs individuals to have some independent play, imagination, rest, or time in an activity corner. You could put together a special weekend box of games and playthings that don’t require constant supervision, things like stuffed animals, puzzles, books, crafts, and favorite toys.
  3. Invest in a timer. Depending on the activities and events you choose to help your special needs individual participate in, it can be helpful for him or her to hear a clear sound that ends one activity and begins another. Positive endings to activities are just as key as positive activities.

 

Creative Fun to Have

Here are our top ten suggestions for fantastic winter weekend activities:

  1. Snow Play–If you live in an area with snow, then you might already be trying to get the “Do you wanna build a snowman?” song out of your head. Building a snowman, making snow angels, or going on a snowshoe hike can be fun ways to help your child or adult with special needs gain some sensory play in the winter. Make snowballs, but instead of a fight (which can be difficult for fearful or over-competitive individuals), aim to hit stationary objects and targets. Use the snow as your own family’s playground.
  2. Snow painting–For those who don’t like romping around in the snow, a great way to have fun outside and involve motor skills is snow painting. Gather squirt bottles (condiment bottles work well), fill them with water, add enough food coloring to make bright colors, and shake to mix. Children and adults both will enjoy “painting” their own artwork masterpieces by squirting the colors on the blank snow canvas.
  3. Indoor Snowman–Winter tends to revolve around snow, which can leave those of us in warmer climates feeling like we can’t find distinct winter activities. Indoor Snowmen to the rescue! (We suggest laying down an old sheet or newspaper or taking this indoor snowman to the back deck.) Gather a large box or plastic container; 2 boxes of cornstarch; 1 can of foam shaving cream; random buttons, sticks, leaves, clothespins, ribbons, or other materials from around the house. Dump the cornstarch into the box, add the shaving cream (you’ll use most of the can), and let your child mash it all together until it forms a crumbly mixture that you can shape into balls (add more shaving cream if it’s too dry to stick together). Make a snowman and decorate it with the random materials. You can re-use the “indoor snow” indefinitely if you use a box with a lid of some kind.
  4. Welcome to Fort Cozy!–With a little bit of forethought, you can put together a fort kit with old sheets, blankets, pillows, rope, cardboard, clothespins, and such. The sky is the limit with the imagination that goes into building forts. Plan to serve a snack, and make books, games, sensory bins, coloring materials, or perhaps an iPad readily available for hours of playtime fun in a cozy, soft blanket fort.
  5. Outdoor Recreation–Skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and other wintertime sports may seem inaccessible or impractical for some special-needs individuals. However, options have sprung up in recent years to allow for therapeutic recreation, which is defined as “creat[ing] adaptations so that people with disabilities have access to activities that they wouldn’t otherwise have” (www.parentmap.com). Check in your area to see if any organizations offer therapeutic or adaptive outdoor recreation options, especially if you live in snowy areas or near winter resorts. A few other suggestions: try to introduce your child to ski or snowboard areas on a weekday, when the slopes won’t be as crowded. It may help to prepare your child by reading a book about skiing or watching some videos on YouTube. If available, trying on ski or snowboard equipment ahead of time may make a first-time day at the slopes more enjoyable.
  6. Hockey–If able to ice skate, special needs individuals may enjoy and benefit from the community and team setting of ice hockey. If your child shows interest in hockey, playing some family street hockey with sticks and a ball in the driveway can give you an indication of your child’s abilities and attentiveness during play. Talk with local coaches and explain your child’s abilities and needs. Discuss any possible accommodations to make hockey a successful integrated experience for your child.
  7. S’more Fun–Build a winter bonfire in the backyard and roast s’mores. This can also be a great social interaction if you invite neighbors, hockey teammates, or other friends over to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening.
  8. Pool Time–Create your own sensory play time in an indoor pool! Take several pool noodles, cut them down to six-inch lengths, and fill the tub (or a plastic kiddie pool) with them. The bright colors and foam noodles will provide hours of sensory play, similar to a ball pit.
  9. Good clean…work–Wintertime chores can actually provide stimulating activity options for children and adults who have special needs. Shoveling sidewalks, scraping ice off windshields, collecting firewood, or making patterns in Jack Frost’s handiwork on windows while washing them off are all examples of chores that can become avenues for fun, physical development during the winter months.
  10. Obstacle Courses–Obstacle courses can be set up either indoors or outdoors, making them a versatile winter weekend activity. Outside, make tunnels in the snow, create paths to follow with visible markers, or set up a section of snow to shovel out of the way. Inside, connect rows of chairs for crawling under, ottomans to climb over, and “lava floors” (blankets on the floor that you can’t touch). Obstacles create opportunities to develop motor skills, translate sensory observations into resulting actions, and provide hours of learning fun.

 

Be The Best Sport offers great winter activities for children with special needs. Our Saturday sports enrichment programs are perfect to get out of the house and be active!

Please check out our program schedule, and register for a FREE Trial Class if you are interested in trying out any of our programs!

Winter/Spring Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
SaturdayMulti-Sport9:30am-10:15am2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 710$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayMulti-Sport10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySoccer10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayFitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying11:15am-12:00pm2/18 - 4/22NONE12 - 2012$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field11:30am-12:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayKarate (Beginner) "Little Ninja"12:00pm-12:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 78$160Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayAdaptive Karate12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 128$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayBasketball1:45pm-2:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1512$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySpecial Needs Basketball2:30pm-3:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE10 & Up12$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SundayManhasset Soccer - Adaptive Program4:00pm-5:00pm4/2-6/18April 9,16
May 14, 28
June
Pre K - 6th Gr.40$50Click Here For InfoClick Here

 

Determining the Best Sport Choice for a Special Needs Child

Determining the Best Sport Choice for a Special Needs Child


As part of the childhood rite of passage and growing up, each kid should have the chance to experience the fun of playing sports and the confidence and sense of belonging it can bring. Many sports can be adapted for special needs children and adults. For example, those in wheelchairs can play basketball or take up modified track and field, and those with limb loss or prosthetics can participate in therapeutic horseback riding or swimming. Perceived limitations should not prevent special needs kids with varying ability levels from trying.

Health Benefits

Sometimes concern of injury keeps parents or guardians from enrolling those with behavioral or physical disabilities into a sport, but it’s especially important for special needs children to get physical exercise to counter adverse health risks. Recent statistics show that the obesity rate for those with special needs is 40% higher than those without, and the odds of being bullied are three times greater than those without a disability. Sports can help in a variety of ways:

  • Cardiovascular improvement
  • Muscle coordination and skeletal strength
  • Weight control
  • Mental sharpening
  • Emotional/social skills
  • Reduced likelihood of other health complications

 

Personal Rewards

When choosing the best sport for your child, avoid mentioning any “limitations.” Help them go into the activity with a “can do” attitude. Schedule a doctor’s examination for any safety concerns, and inform the instructor or coach of any possible health problems beforehand. Understanding the special needs child’s abilities is key for parents. Those kids with behavioral, emotional, or mental disabilities might benefit more from one-on-one or individualized sports as opposed to team sports. If a team sport works best, notify the instructor and fellow players so that they become familiar with your child’s disability. Sports and physical activity in general can boost confidence for special needs children. It will be a stepping stone for trying new things.

Multiple Choices

Be the Best Sport offers a wide selection of sports that can be a benefit to children in many ways:

  • Basketball–teaches great teamwork and following directions, promotes hand-eye coordination, encourages camaraderie
  • Soccer–improves foot-eye coordination, teaches coaching instructions, coordinates play with peers
  • Multi-sport–provides a variety of activity and promotes physical coordination
  • Karate–teaches focus and control, great for individualized training and accomplishment
  • Fitness–promotes cardiovascular health and general muscle coordination with daily steady exercise routines
  • Track and field–enhances speed with individualized competition as well as team relay and obstacle course skills
  • Tennis–teaches hand-eye coordination and running, can be individualized or mixed doubles to promote limited exposure to teamwork

 

We want our athletes to learn to show respect to leaders and peers as well as to accept instruction. We desire that they make friends and learn good sportsmanship. Besides physical strength and growth, each of these sports has many ongoing benefits. Each child learns how to enjoy victory but also how to accept defeat. Team members learn how to congratulate other individuals on their wins. Special needs athletes learn to be compassionate toward those who have lost and to console others who are injured or disappointed. They can learn self-discipline and motivation skills they can apply in other areas of life. Be the Best Sport aspires to help those with special needs achieve these goals.

 

Summer Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
MondayTrack & Field 5:30pm - 6:15pm July 10,17,24,31
Aug 7
NONE
8 - 158$150Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
MondayFitness 6:15pm-7:00pm July 10,17,24,31
Aug 7
NONE
8 & Up8$150Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
TuesdayMulti Sport 6:00pm - 7:30pmJuly 11,18,25
Aug 1,8
NONE
12 & Up12$200Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Wednesday Multi-Sport5:30pm - 6:15pmJuly 5,12,19,26
Aug 2,9
NONE
5 - 88$180Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
WednesdayBike Riding6:15pm-7:00pm Session 1: July 5,12,19
Session 2: July 26, Aug 2,9
NONE
4 & Up3 Per Session $150 for 3 Weeks Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Thursday Fitness 5:30pm - 6:15pm July 6,13,20,27
Aug 3,10
NONE4 - 88$180 Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Thursday Bike Riding6:15pm-7:00pm Session 1: July 6,13,20
Session 2: July 27, Aug 3,10
NONE5 & Up3 Per Session$150 for 3 Weeks Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990

Summer Programs for Children With Special Needs

Special Needs Summer Programs

How would your child like to spend his or her summer? Most would enjoy going to camp, no matter age or ability. In fact, there are a wide variety of summer camps and programs designed specifically for special needs individuals–something for everyone from Down’s syndrome and autism to limb loss and cardiac patient. Whether the program you choose focuses on medical recuperation, sports and outdoor events, or learning assistance and tutoring, there are certain things to consider:

  • What is the result or goal of the program? Your child may be learning a new skill, gaining self-reliance in an unfamiliar area, connecting with others, building physical strength, or sharpening academically.
  • Which option takes into account your special needs child’s interests, age, and temperament?
  • What are the program’s structure and offerings? Some are indoors with a focus on academics like reading and language skills or even  art, music, performance, and acting. Technology, life skills, and internship training for the future are also practical options. Some programs emphasize outdoor physical activities like nature and exploration, field sports, and animals and zoology.  The camp may be social or individual, large or small, day or overnight, mixed groups or boys and girls separate, or competition versus recreation.
  • Is the program accredited by the American Camp Association?
  •  Is the camp able to make your child feel at home away from home? It should include sufficient equipment and personnel for treating injuries and other medical concerns. It should also have established policies on reimbursement in case of early departure or in-completion of the program. Ask about staff training requirements and the ratio of kids to counselors. Are the program’s arrangements accommodating to your child’s eating (including special dietary needs), sleeping, and daily hygiene routines? Are all areas accessible for specific disabilities or mobility challenges? What communications are available to you and your child while he or she is at the facility?
  • Is the cost inclusive, or will there be charges for additional activities? Some school districts may fund a portion of the costs.

In making a final choice, ask previously participating parents and kids if they’d recommend the site. Buddy up if a new situation is too tasking, and join with a friend. Check with your local school staff; many camps or programs aren’t just for special needs but are adaptive to include them. Some options to explore include nature preserves and parks, community centers, local churches, youth clubs, museums, art/music centers, community theaters, and libraries. Get to know the program staff, and let them know all the pertinent information about your child’s individual condition so that they can best care for him or her. Ask to tour the facility personally if you have any concerns.

 

Be the Best Sport looks forward to working with special needs youth during summer vacation. Tuesday nights will focus on younger kids with a variety of multi-sport activities, including tee-ball, basketball, football, soccer, and scooter/bicycling to build motor skills and coordination. To encourage socializing and teamwork, we will aim to integrate siblings with the parents’ permission. On weekend mornings, we will be running at the Mid Island Y JCC in Plainview. Come join the fun!

 

Summer Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
MondayTrack & Field 5:30pm - 6:15pm July 10,17,24,31
Aug 7
NONE
8 - 158$150Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
MondayFitness 6:15pm-7:00pm July 10,17,24,31
Aug 7
NONE
8 & Up8$150Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
TuesdayMulti Sport 6:00pm - 7:30pmJuly 11,18,25
Aug 1,8
NONE
12 & Up12$200Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Wednesday Multi-Sport5:30pm - 6:15pmJuly 5,12,19,26
Aug 2,9
NONE
5 - 88$180Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
WednesdayBike Riding6:15pm-7:00pm Session 1: July 5,12,19
Session 2: July 26, Aug 2,9
NONE
4 & Up3 Per Session $150 for 3 Weeks Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Thursday Fitness 5:30pm - 6:15pm July 6,13,20,27
Aug 3,10
NONE4 - 88$180 Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990
Thursday Bike Riding6:15pm-7:00pm Session 1: July 6,13,20
Session 2: July 27, Aug 3,10
NONE5 & Up3 Per Session$150 for 3 Weeks Unlimited Sports Action
30 Beechwood Ave
Port Washington, NY 11050
Call 516.453.0990

Pedal On! Benefits Of Learning How To Ride A Bike

For any child learning how to ride a bike is a struggle, and can definitely be stressful for both the child and the parent. There are so many great benefits for learning how to ride a bike but for children on the spectrum it can be very hard to learn. However, here are some great reasons to get your children excited to learn how to ride a bike.

Keeping Kids Active
For many children with Autism exercising is not as simple as it is for many other children. Children with Autism tend to struggle with their weight because of many different reasons but implementing a healthy and fun way for them to exercise is key. Bike riding works on your core and leg muscles to maintain balance and stability of the bike.

Family Fun
Bike riding is a great way to incorporate the entire family into maintaining a healthy life style. While bike riding is great exercise, it is also a great way for a family to bond and build strong relationships. It is also a great way to relieve stress.

Gross Motor Skills and Sensory Benefits
Bike riding is not just about working your core and leg muscles but it is also beneficial for working out your brain. It helps improve gross motor skills by working on coordination, endurance and strengthening. Bike riding also helps with full body sensory awareness along with visual stimulation. It also helps children with their attention and focusing on the task given to them.

Children that learn how to ride a bike also practice on their communication skills along with their social skills. In addition, bike riding also helps children boost self confidence because they have accomplished and learned how to do something they did not know how to do before. It is a great way to help children build self confidence and create a bond with the person teaching them how to ride a bike.

Here at Be The Best Sport we provide Bike Riding classes to teach children how to ride. For more information about our bike riding classes please contact us at mike@bethebestsport.org

Sources: Buddy Bike, Friendship Circle