Children with special needs can benefit from routine physical activity from exercise programs or team sports. The parents of a special needs child should make sure that she participates in a school’s physical education class or a local park’s recreational programs.
Benefit 1: Improving the Body’s Muscle Strength
A child with special needs should engage in physical activity at least three times a week to build her muscle strength in her arms, legs, and torso. Activities such as playing baseball can help a child use her shoulders and arms to hit a ball before using her legs to run around a baseball field.
Benefit 2: Socializing Skills Will Improve
By participating in team sports, a special needs child can improve her socialization skills with her peers, helping her to increase her verbal communication and body language. A child may need to talk to her other team members during a game to understand what the other team members want to achieve.
Benefit 3: Increase Body Coordination
Physical activity can increase a child’s coordination to improve unusual walking gaits or poor sitting postures. Exercise routines that use calisthenics or yoga are especially beneficial for the body. Improving body coordination in a special needs child can take several months of physical exercise.
Benefit 4: Developing Confidence Levels
Participating in sports with other classmates can help with the development of mental confidence for a special needs child. A child who doesn’t excel in academic subjects might have better success with sports such as basketball. Parents will notice the increase in confidence by the facial expressions of their child while she plays a game of soccer.
Benefit 5: Reducing Spasticity in the Muscles and Joints
Some types of medical conditions can cause spasticity in the joints and muscles, but with regular physical activity, the joints or muscles have improvements that can help a child to stand and walk better. Participating in activities that require running, jumping or throwing a ball can improve the condition of the legs, shoulders, and arms.
Benefit 6: Maintaining the Appropriate Weight
When a special needs child has a problem with gaining weight, she can benefit from physical activity. It is essential for a special needs child to burn her excess calories to avoid weight problems that can remain during adulthood.
Even the most well-intentioned people often have difficulty discerning the best ways to help a friend with a child with special needs. If you are looking for easy and practical ways to show you want to support them, here are a few ways to do just that:
Every parent of a special needs child desires the opportunity to vent to a sympathetic ear. One of the best things you can do to help a friend is to be there to listen, give solicited advice, and be understanding. By giving them the opportunity to share their concerns and triumphs, you are gifting them with the blessing of true friendship.
Because of the overwhelming time commitment involved in caring for a child with special needs, these parents are often more exhausted than their typical parent counterparts. By offering to watch their child for a bit, you are giving them the invaluable gift of time and relaxation. A night out or even the chance to grab a nap is incredibly helpful.
A way to any person’s heart is through the stomach. Parents of special needs children often need help with meal prep and grocery buying. Showing up with a meal is one of the most useful ways to lend a helping hand. Better yet, come bearing freezer meals so that the parent can pull them out whenever it is needed.
Make It Shine
One of the last things on the priority list of a special needs child parent is the housecleaning. By offering to clean their house, you will be taking a big load off of their mind and helping to keep their busy life as organized as possible. Coming home to a sparkling house and fresh laundry will help ease the stress that comes with parenting a special needs child.
Help with Errands
Next time you drop off your dry cleaning, consider asking your friend if they need anything picked up or dropped off. Helping with simple tasks such as this can ease the load of a special needs child parent. Taking on more of the carpool burden when ferrying other kids around is another practical way to make life just a little easier for your friend.
Getting ready for a new school year is stressful for most children, but it can be especially difficult for a child with special needs. Transitioning to a school schedule is a challenge, as is making sure a special-needs child receives the attention they need from the school staff. Fortunately, there are things that you can do as a parent to make the transition much more manageable.
Gather the Proper Documentation
Being a parent of a child in school means keeping track of lots of paperwork. You need to know about things such as school field trips, parent-teacher conferences, and anything else that will require your involvement. As a parent of a special-needs child, you will also have to gather documentation on your child’s needs for their school. This may include having an individualized education program, or IEP, for your child. Work closely with the school staff to review and implement this plan, and make sure that it is shared with the right staff members.
Most young children won’t see the “big picture” when it comes to their education, and that goes double for those with special needs. What they can understand better is short-term goals such as completing one assignment on time or even just being able to get ready for one school day. The goals you set will depend on your child and their capabilities, but try to keep them short-term and straightforward if you really want to see positive results.
Visit The School
Visiting a new school before your child attends is always a great idea, and it is particularly beneficial if your child has special needs. Many special-needs children thrive on structure and routine, and suddenly disrupting their current routine can cause a lot of problems. By taking them on a tour of their new school and allowing them to meet their teachers, you can help ease them into their new schedule when the new school year begins. It’s also best to schedule this tour when the previous school year is over or right before the next year is beginning since there won’t be as many staff members of students to overwhelm your child.
Above all else, the most important thing you can do when preparing a child for school is to be patient. Transitioning from a months-long period of no school to spending all day in classrooms is hard for any young child. There may be tantrums, meltdowns, and other setbacks during the transition, so be patient with your child. They will adjust to their new schedule on time and discover that going to school can be a positive experience.
About Lisa Landman
Lisa Landman earned her doctorate in psychology from Fordham University in 2005. One of the reasons why Lisa pursued psychology is due to her interest in helping others. Throughout her life, Lisa has spent time helping the most vulnerable populations of society which includes animals. She and her husband have rescued six different dogs over the years, and Lisa volunteers with the Special Olympics. Lisa particularly cares about adults with disabilities since they’re a population that tends to face increased vulnerability as they age.
Recently, Lisa Landman worked as a Residential Coordinator at Bishop Grady Villas which describes itself as a “place where adults with disabilities are able to thrive and achieve their dreams” (Bishop Grady Villas Homepage). The best part of working at Bishop Grady was getting to know the residents. Lisa found each resident to be an amazing person with a huge heart, a caring attitude, and a wonderful personality. She particularly admired the residents’ attitudes toward life. Even with their daily struggles, they approached each day with optimism.
The most difficult aspect of working at Bishop Grady Villas was the lack of funding. A large amount of the residents are on the waitlist to receive benefits from the government which Lisa Landman finds unacceptable. If the residents can’t get government assistance, then their families must pay for them to live there. Sadly, there are many adults like the residents of Bishop Grady Villas who don’t have families to help them receive the sort of attention and care they need. This unfortunate reality is one of the reasons why Lisa is motivated to assist adults with disabilities as much as possible.
Lisa Landman served as an assistant basketball coach in early 2017. Helping the Bishop Grady residents during their weekly practices was a lot of fun. Seeing how much fun the residents have during games never failed to make Lisa smile. Lisa plans to assist with more Special Olympics events in the future. Since the Special Olympics is a nationwide organization, anyone can get involved. Helping adults with disabilities is a great way to spend one’s time, and Lisa encourages everyone she knows to get involved in some manner.
Over the years Lisa Landman has worked in a variety of areas such as human resources and teaching. For eleven years she owned a fitness center where she was involved in nearly every aspect of the business. Lisa’s diverse work experience means that she can thrive in nearly any work situation. She looks forward to continuing to pursue entrepreneurial projects while helping others at the same time.