Special needs children seem to have a harder time finding extracurricular activities. Not only are there fewer activities catered to them, they also constantly face seclusion or discrimination from their peers even at after-school activities.
We set out to find suitable extracurricular activities for children with special needs. There are in fact many that would encourage and empower special needs children specifically
Children faced with learning disabilities have a harder time participating in mainstream athletics. Sports such as baseball, football, basketball and soccer are team sports where children have to be chosen to play. Having to stay on the bench all the time defeats self-esteem and emotional health.
However, gymnastics is a sport free for all children; coaches also tend to spend time with the children one-on-one. The Discover Fitness Foundation in Houston, Texas offers gymnastics classes for children with special needs.
Other than gymnastics, music therapy is also an established and proven-successful therapy that helps children with special needs physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially. It is also a lot of fun! Music therapy can improve children’s motor skills, balance, social skills, self-expression, stress management and memory. Music intervention could be especially helpful for children’s growth from six months to six years of age. The American Association of Music Therapy offers list of music therapists in the United States.
Other types of art, such as drama, is a great emotional outlet for creative children with special needs. Given the chance to creatively express themselves in different characters could help children communicate better. There are also opportunities for children in drama to cooperate in completing a production. It encourages children to work together and to develop friendships.
Drawing also helps children who are still learning to express themselves. Children’s art should not be judged upon their skills, but upon their efforts. There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from completing a piece of artwork, which could be proudly displayed in the child’s own home. The city of Ottawa, Canada has a Special Needs Arts Initiative where hands-on visual arts programs are offered to anyone with physical, developmental and mental disabilities.
One more activity that children with special needs could try out is dance. Through dance, children discover what they can do with their body’s movements. Children interact with each other and express themselves with dance moves. The vibrant spirit of dance keeps children constantly active and having fun. Dance allows children to discover their potential and creativity. If you are in Canada, check out Halifax Dance that started a Special Needs Inclusive Movement, which embraces each child’s unique needs and creates a community for children with disabilities.
Could you think of any other after-school programs that are great for special needs children? Share with us in the COMMENTS section below!