Summer break can be a fun or a stressful experience depending on the family. Some parents dread the return of warm weather because it means their children will complain of boredom. However, for parents who choose to look at the season as a chance to interact with their children and learn something new together, the summer season can be a great time for change and enrichment. For families with special needs children, the summer can be a great time to engage in sensory enrichment activities, which can be particularly good for children with mental disabilities, such as autism. Consider heading outside or to a new location to try out one of these great options.
A home garden is a great way to learn about science while enjoying healthy, homegrown produce. Plus, for children who enjoy the sensory stimulation, a garden provides numerous opportunities to discover new sites, smells, feelings, and tastes. Look at tiny bugs and butterflies, smell the ripe tomatoes, feel the rough leaves and taste a freshly picked carrot.
The thoughtful child may prefer a stimulating experience at the library. Many libraries have special areas set up in the children’s section where children can enjoy computer programs, play with stuffed animals, do puzzles, listen to books and even paint. Parents can check to see what weekly programs their libraries offer, such as reading groups.
A farmer’s market is much like a garden in that children can experience the delicious aromas and tastes of fresh produce. However, a farmer’s market also allows children to hear and see new things. Children who enjoy people-watching will enjoy this experience.
Water is quite therapeutic for most special needs children. It can be calming simply to watch. Children who cannot take much stimulation may enjoy the quietude of a lazy river. Other children may prefer the experience of a splash pad with water spouts and shallow areas.