7 Engaging Summer Activities For Children With Special Needs

When you have a child with behavioral and intellectual disabilities, summer offers its own unique challenges. If you’re like most special needs parents, you’re probably looking for ways to keep your children happy and active during the break from school. Here are a few engaging summer activities for children with special needs.

Sensory Bins: As every special needs parent knows, sensory activities are not only soothing, but can also help with fine motor skills. A beach bin is perfect for summer, with sand, a plastic shovel, sand molds, and tactile seashells or toy fish. Click here for more sensory bin suggestions.

Finger Painting: Another great activity for improving fine motor skills, finger painting also allows children with behavioral and intellectual disabilities to express their creativity. Don’t be afraid to let your child get messy, whether they’re using washable, non-toxic finger paints, or shaving cream!

Chalk: Chalk is an easy activity that can offer endless hours of fun over the summer months. Encourage older children to draw and to practice spelling words or writing sentences. For younger kids, chalk is a great way to learn letters and shapes, or scribble to their heart’s content. Then, turn on the hose or sprinkler and watch the colors blend!

Water Play: Speaking of sprinklers, water play is a great way to keep cool and burn off some energy during the summer months. It can be as simple as letting kids run through a sprinkler in the yard, or it can be as complex as setting up a water balloon fight or water table. You could even visit a splash pad or take a dip in a pool! Just be sure to stay near and watch kids closely when around water. Click here for things to know about water safety.

Indoor Camping: Whether it’s piling up pillows and draping sheets over sofas and chairs, or setting up a tee-pee or small tent in the living room, building a fort is a great activity for special needs kids. Create a calming retreat for indoor camping on blazing hot (or rainy) days, filled with favorite books, a cozy blanket, stuffed animals, and even some healthy snacks.

Gardening: Especially good for older kids, gardening is a physical activity that gets everyone outside in the sunshine. It’s also an educational tool that teaches children about science and math. Plant some seeds, and use a ruler to see how much your plants grow each week. Gardening also helps teach responsibility, as your child waters and cares for their garden.

Star Gazing: When the sun sets, set out a picnic blanket and gaze up at the night sky. Look for the moon and stars, and try to identify different summer constellations. This educational activity is great for calming sensory overload after a busy day or simply getting children to wind down before bedtime.

Pathways is one of the largest national providers of accessible, outcome-based behavioral and mental health services. Pathways of Pennsylvania has been serving communities in Pennsylvania since 1981, and is comprised of four companies: Children’s Behavioral Health, Inc., Pathways Community Services, LLC, Raystown Developmental Services, Inc., and The ReDCo Group, Inc. We believe every individual has a right to lead a meaningful and positive life, and we are changing lives, one day at a time.