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Saturday 18 Nov 2017

Supporting Participation in the Community

Article by Stephanie Ekis, MS, CCC-SLP

Including your child in community-based activities can support social skills development, communication skills and offer them different types of life experiences.  Use the list below for ideas on how to start looking for community activities that were created with the special needs of your child in mind.  These are also great opportunities for parents to network.

Tip 1:  Research sensory-friendly activities.

Many public spaces offer sensory friendly events.  Make sure that you research your area and request to be put on the mailing list so that you are alerted when these events are scheduled.  For example, the Autism Society of America and AMC have teamed up to offer Sensory Friendly Films.  Visit http://www.amctheatres.com/sff/ for more information or to request a film showing in your area.  Other places to consider might include:

  • Library
  • YMCA/YWCA
  • Museums
  • Community parks


Tip 2:  Join a sports team.

There may be many opportunities for your child to participate on a local sports team.  One option might be The Challenger Division of Little League.  It is a sports program for children ages 4 – 22.  The Challenger Division allows children with special needs to enjoy the full benefits of Little League participation in an athletic environment structured to their abilities. The value of the Little League Challenger Division is found in the proven therapeutic and socialization benefits of participating in sports, the strengthening of participants’ self-esteem, the opportunities to mainstream into other divisions of play, and the disciplines of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play, which are hallmarks of the Little League program.

Special Olympics may be another option for your child.  The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Tip 3:  Go to summer camp!

Spend some time to research the different camp options in your area.  Start soon as many camps will fill up quickly. Some camps are residential and some are created for the whole family.  Find the one that will work best for you and your family.  If you go to the Autism Speaks website, click on your state and click on the “Camps” link located in the Services resources, you will be able to find some camp listings.

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