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iStock_000010808203_LargeAfter-school activities are good for your child with special needs. They open your child to the outside world without the difficulties you may experience at school. They give everyone a break from school and medical routines with no requirement to achieve any set goal, and they are fun! Children with special needs may even learn new human values and surpass their own limits. Regardless, they will still have a good time and that is what really matters. There are a lot of adapted activities to choose from.

Katia's pictures 7Arts in general are a great choice because they are taught in a rather calm environment, they let everyone express their creativity with no shame, and they even offer a valuable sensory input. The spectrum of these activities is very large: from graphic arts, to music, to cooking classes, there is surely something for every child! Participants are asked to follow some rules but it is OK to get different results, so your child cannot go wrong. In the same spirit, youth organizations (such as scouts movements, religious groups or other types of organizations) let children grow and find their own personality while gaining independence.

793517_1Some sports may also be adapted to your child. Swimming, dancing, gymnastics and yoga are particularly suited as they offer rather soft physical exercise and they let the participants reach their own limits. Some team sports may be adapted as well but you would have to speak with the coach and see if your child can truly be integrated in the team with no risk to be harmed. If that is possible, those sports will teach your child a valuable sense of teamwork.

Kids SoccerIn any case, don’t forget to talk to your child’s health provider before you sign your child up to any of those activities. Also, think about contacting non-profit organizations specialized in integrating your child in after-school activities. The only difficulty will be to make your choice!

What about you? Which activity do you like the best for your child with special needs?

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Handwriting… All kids can find this difficult to master but special needs kids have a greater chance to experience the tears of frustration at school or at home while trying to get their homework done. The reason for this varies: either the body is not well positioned, the child lacks attention or coordination, there is a medical condition, you name it. Thankfully, there are exciting ways to promote handwriting skills that will work with almost every child!

5 tips handwriting

1. Grasp, grasp, grasp

Handwriting starts with good positioning of the whole body and fingers on the writing tool. It may be too abstract for your child to follow your directions as you explain or show them, so think of those pencil grips or claws to physically guide their hand. Heavy pens are another affordable and efficient way to improve their grasp by building hand muscles strength.

jumbo grip 1 claw medium 1 TPG-651

2. Lower the pressure

32090_3Handwriting problems often come from a too strong pressure applied by the child to the pen. Use stress balls at any time to encourage your child to relax their hand muscles and promote fine motor skills.

3. Feel the vibes

__017877_A_previewThe Squiggle Wiggle is a very original pen that vibrates, creating colored squiggles as an interesting alternative to drawing. It encourages fine motor control and helps your child appreciate writing while staying creative.

4. Have fun!

Think of fun activities that involve writing or drawing such as: drawing around your hand, making an herbarium (simply run a color pencil on a paper to transfer leaves’ relief), or playing Pictionary with the whole family! They should improve your child’s handwriting skills without tears.

iStock_000013308707_Large Herbarium Pictionary

5. Play (yes, play!)

TPG-654 OpenLet kids play their favorite game on a phone or tablet with an adapted stylus. They look just like a pen and will train them as if it were the real thing… except they are playing!

If those simple tips are still not effective enough, don’t hesitate to ask the help of an Occupational Therapist who will have a better understanding of your child’s abilities.

Did you find new tips to try with your child in this article? If you have more tips, please share with other readers!

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