Special needs

Adapting outdoor activities for kids with special needs

Anchel Krishna wants to be more bold in adapting outdoors activities for her daughter with special needs.

special-needs-activities

Four-year-old Syona takes a breather after all the trampoline fun. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Several months ago, my husband Dilip and I agreed that our fitness needed to be more of a priority. Our plan to head to the gym at least twice a week has worked well so far. We’ve had to adjust our schedules a little, but the fact that our gym has multiple locations in our surrounding area has made getting there all the more convenient—even through the nasty winter we had!

But now that spring is in the air, we need to put our four-year-old daughter Syona first and get her outdoors. Who knew a trampoline would spark so much outdoor inspiration? Last week, we visited friends who have a trampoline set up in their backyard for their two sons, and we came up with a game that included the boys as well as Syona. We got the kids to sit or lie down on one side of the trampoline, while I jumped on the other, bouncing them into the air. Then the boys would jump together on one end while Syona and I sat and waited to be sent flying. When everyone had their fill of being bounced across the trampoline, the boys collapsed beside Syona in a fit of giggles. It was a much-needed reminder that any outdoor activity can be adapted and made inclusive for our daughter—even something as daunting as a trampoline.

Last summer, Syona joined an adapted soccer team. It was a fun way to spend Friday evenings and she enjoyed herself immensely. We’re planning on signing her up again this year. People often think of inclusivity as a means to ensure people with special needs get to take part in what is happening around them. And, while that’s obviously part of it, I think there’s so much more to it. To me, true inclusivity is when Syona has the choice to participate in an activity in a way that is manageable for her. Yes, the activity will ultimately be altered in some way—like the trampoline game—but that’s OK. This way she is not an afterthought. Dilip and I will continue to find new ways for her to play outdoors in simple ways—like using her walker while holding a bucket to collect various objects. It’s our adapted version of collecting pebbles and shells, the way many kids her age tend to do.

I’m starting to feel optimistic that, with a little more fine-tuning when it comes to working around our schedules, our family will continue to improve our overall fitness levels and general health. An increase in energy and healthier bodies puts everyone in a better mood—and it’s important to us that Syona witness her parents’ healthy lifestyle choices so that she can emulate them, and know that she’s capable of taking part in any activity she wants.

What activities have you adapted for your child? 

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

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