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

 

Benefits of Track & Field For Children and Adults With Special Needs

The opportunity to participate in track and field events is one of the greatest ways to improve health physically and emotionally. Everyone can benefit from physical exercise, team effort, perseverance, companionship, and establishing and accomplishing goals; however, special needs individuals must work additionally hard at conquering obstacles and cultivating a spirit of friendly competition, both of which will carry over into other areas of life.

When choosing a track and field activity for your special needs child, consider his or her developmental age first, not physical age alone. Physical limitations or impairments in sight or hearing may require adaptive equipment or special modifications. Your child’s personality and potential responsiveness to a coach or teammates may determine the pace or number of participants that he or she is comfortable interacting with. Keep in mind your child’s interests by including him or her in the decision-making process. Lessen any uneasiness ahead of time by familiarizing your child with the rules and simplifying instructions in a way that won’t overwhelm them.

Many programs institute a buddy system. Older students are often paired with younger special needs children to participate together in the event of their choice–training together, competing together, encouraging each other. Special needs youth have the satisfaction of a one-on-one teammate with a sense of readiness and accomplishment that he or she would not have acquired without the support of their buddy. In addition, a partner makes transitions more comfortable and provides an example to follow.

Track and field can be modified to most disabilities, even though some special needs kids may require adaptive equipment or special conditions. For tossing events, like javelin or discus, a modified set of rules may apply for wheelchair participants. On the track, visually impaired participants may use a guide runner or parallel bars around the course to help lead. Strobe lighting or flags signal hearing impaired runners to start off. Races may be between athletes of varying disabilities. Programs like Unified Sports mix non-special needs individuals jumping over hurdles with wheelchair athletes racing alongside or around cones.

The benefits of track and field are many. Such activity

  • Sustains proper body weight
  • Promotes better coordination
  • Improves balance
  • Focuses attention
  • Teaches to drown out interruptions
  • Trains to work with basic coaching instructions
  • Focuses behavioral actions and boosts spirits
  • Works off unproductive energy
  • Provides adjustment to unexpected situations and new circumstances
  • Develops more regulated patterns of sleep
  • Adapts to multitasking
  • Gives clearer mind and mental focus
  • Teaches self-restraint
  • Provides teamwork in controlled amounts
  • Builds self-reliance
  • Accomplishes specific objectives
  • Motivates others

Be the Best Sport loves to see our athletes grow in all these areas! Our track and field program offers training in the following events: form and formula running, 200 meter run, 4×100 and other relays, long jump, obstacle course, hurdles, javelin, and shot put to name a few. Safety is a number one concern, so our track and field is individualized to accommodate each child’s special need. Our athletes will learn a variety of new events as well as have fun, make friends, and build confidence in the process.

 

Fall Schedule 2016

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
SaturdayMulti-Sport9:30am-10:15am9/10 - 11/12NONE4 - 713$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayMulti-Sport10:15am-11:00am9/10 - 11/12NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySoccer10:15am-11:00am9/10 - 11/12NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayFitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying11:15am-12:00pm9/10 - 11/12NONE12 - 2012$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayKarate (Beginner) "Little Ninja"12:00pm-12:30pm9/10 - 11/12NONE4 - 78$160Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayAdaptive Karate12:30pm-1:15pm9/10 - 11/12NONE7 - 128$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field12:30pm-1:15pm9/10 - 11/12NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayBasketball1:45pm-2:30pm9/10 - 11/12NONE7 - 1512$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990

 

Women’s Running Magazine Raises Awareness!

Kiley Lyall, 24 will be the first women ever with Autism to be featured on a national fitness magazine cover! Kiley is a marathon runner that won the people’s choice vote to be featured on the magazine cover, which will be on stands December 22nd.

Kiley found her passion for running while running the last portion of the relay race at the Special Olympics when she was 8 years old. She helped her team win the Gold medal for the relay race. Kiley began to run more races and eventually started running marathons. She not only has a passion for running but also owns her own photography business as well.

We can’t wait to read her entire article in the January/February 2016 issue of Women’s Running magazine! For more information about the magazine click here.

Why Track & Field Can Be Good For Autistic Children

As we all know staying active is extremely healthy for all children. It helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle and establishes a routine. For children with Autism is may be a little difficult to enroll them into team sports, especially if it involves constant social interaction and communication with teammates. However, there are many sports that are great for children that keep them active with less communication needed. One sport is Track and Field. 

Keeps Kids Social Without Constant Communication
Track and Field is not like other team sports where you have to communicate with your teammates to score a goal or get a touchdown. Track and Field is a sport that can be done with one person at a time. It is good for children with Autism that are not comfortable with constant communication with teammates because they still are part of a team without constantly communication with kids. It also allows kids to achieve personal goals at their own pace. Track and Field also helps build social skills because it keeps them engaged with children with similar interests with similar goals.

Keeps Kids Active
Track and Field is a great work out for the body as a whole. Running is great for raising good cholesterol, maintain healthy lung function, strengthens the heart and helps build muscles. It can also help with decrease chances of Diabetes and Obesity. For children with Autism it also helps improve coordination and muscle development.

Overall Track and Field helps with decreasing self-stimulatory behaviors, hyperactivity, aggression and destructiveness because it provides kids with the activities to release any built up energy. In addition, it also helps kids build self-confidence, achieve goals and makes them happy.

Here at Be The Best Sport we provide Track and Field programs that teach kids the basics of the different types of activities. For more information about our Track and Field program click here.