The great outdoors offers endless activities the entire family can enjoy. No matter the age or ability of your children, we’re positive you can all find something to do together. In particular, if you are looking for recreational activities for disabled children, then you are in the right place. There’s a wide range of unique outdoor pursuits the whole family can participate in, from problem-solving tasks to exhilarating adventures.
Why you should try outdoor activities for disabled children
The disability status of a loved-one, whether they’re an adult or a child, should never interfere with a family’s ability to have fun and laugh together. Outdoor activities are not only enjoyable, but they can also help your kids realize their full potential. For instance, motor skills activities and equine therapy for autism will go a long way in strengthening your child’s muscles and also help them develop a sense of belonging. Below is a list of activities you can all try.
Outdoor activities for the whole family
- Scavenger hunting
When participating in a scavenger-hunt, your goal is to find every item on a list and collect it within a given time frame. Aside from the fun part, a scavenger hunt is one of the best recreational activities for disabled children since it’s low-impact, easy to understand, and can be done as a group. At the end of the game, a fun prize is given to the winning team.
- Creating sensory bins
A sensory bin is a bin that holds objects and materials with different shapes, textures, and colors. Sensory bins are particularly entertaining for younger children or children who have special sensory or stimulation needs, such as those found in autism. A sensory bin is a unique way to enjoy different toys and activities in a calm and safe environment. If you are looking for unique motor skill activities for children, playing with a sensory bin can be the way to go. You can even pick your sensory bin items from a forest or local park to encourage children to get out of the house.
Sensory bins can also be used during bath time. This is a great idea if your child has sensitivity to water or a dislike of washing because it distracts them from the task and keeps them focused on something fun.
- Equine therapy for autism
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, equine therapy for autism will help them develop motor and sensory skills. In equine therapy, a horse serves as your child’s companion. As your child cares for and communicates with the horse, they learn gross motor skills such as balance and coordination. Eventually, an emotional connection is built as your child gradually acquires or improves their motor and sensory skills.
Specific benefits of equine therapy include:
- Helping your child develop a caregiver attitude while caring for the horse.
- Improved social and communication skills – talking to the horse helps gain and improve communication skills and develop social interaction skills.
- Improved muscle strength – adjusting the reins while controlling the horse’s movements strengthens your child’s muscles.
- Improved cognitive abilities – controlling the horse engages your child mentally and builds self-esteem.
- Team sports
Team sports like football and tug-of-war can give your child a chance to exercise their hands, feet, and core muscles. Physical sports enable your child to focus on something tangible, such as a ball or rope, thus improving hand-eye coordination. Similarly, sports that involve a child’s entire body, like swimming, can build strong muscles from toes to fingers.
- Dance parties
You can also treat your child to outdoor activities such as a dance party that will help them flex some muscles. Dancing helps children improve their motor skills as they practice new dance moves. It can improve coordination, balance, and flexibility, while also serving as a fantastic opportunity to socialize.
- Nature walks
Taking a relaxing nature walk is an activity that can be enjoyed any time of year, no matter what the weather. Whether you’re collecting autumn leaves to use in an art project later, or trekking through snow to take pictures of birds, nature walks can be enjoyed by every member of the family. The walks can also be modified to include recreational activities for disabled children. For example, you might use the nature walk as an opportunity to collect items for a sensory bin, which will be enjoyed later on in the day. Or, you might explore new words, sounds, and movements in an outdoor space to improve motor skills, memory, and cognition.
If you have multiple children, a nature walk is a great activity to involve the whole family for quality time together outdoors!
- Outdoor reading
Outdoor activities for disabled children don’t always mean physical activities to exercise their muscles. Reading an interesting book under a tree can help build a reading culture in your family, while simultaneously allowing you to soak up some vitamin D! Reading is not only a recreational activity, but also highly educational. Making reading an enjoyable outdoor activity for children with autism will help to improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary.
- Watering plants and gardening
Tending to plants and working in a garden can also be an enjoyable outdoor activity. Digging in dirt, planting seeds, and watering plants are all great sensory activities that help kids with developmental disabilities improve their motor skills as they take care of the environment around them.
If your child has a disability, tasking them with watering or weeding can install a sense of self-esteem and independence. If necessary, you can modify your garden to allow easy movement of a wheelchair or crutches. With a little guidance, your child can learn vital life skills while having fun at the same time.
If you have reared fish in a pool or live near a river, you and your family can enjoy fishing in the afternoons. You can also prepare the fish in the open and ask your kids to help out to make the experience even more enjoyable. Fish can be very therapeutic animals, so even just sitting and watching the fish swim can sufficiently calm hyperactive children.
As you plan outdoor activities for you and your children, always put their welfare at the forefront. Be vigilant and ensure that a responsible adult accompanies children, especially those with autism or other developmental disabilities.
We can help
Integrity Inc. is a Little Rock-based community services organization providing a variety of health care, rehabilitative and child care services to the Central Arkansas area. Contact Integrity Inc. at (501) 406-0442 or by filling this form to get access to supportive services, which will help your child lead a happier and fuller life.