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Tips & activity ideas for special needs kids in the winter holidays

With the winter holidays coming up, for most families it’s a time to have fun, relax, and enjoy some time away from the school – and enjoy spending quality time together. However, for special needs kids, holidays can sometimes be distressing. They are suddenly no longer doing their daily routine that they are used to, and it can throw them out of sorts. But as a parent you still want to enjoy the holidays!   Over the holidays, you just want to enjoy the free time with your child and go places together.

Keep a Routine – This is a good idea for kids with behavioural issues and Autism  

Although your child’s routine will change for the next 2 weeks, with no driving to school, no teachers fussing, no classes and simply just not going into the same buildings every day; you can still plan a routine. Still get them up at their usual time and still have breakfast at the same time. Make sure you have their clothes out the night before if you need to, so they get used to the idea of not wearing their school uniform. Plan out what you are going to do each day and go over a timeline the night before, so they know what’s coming up throughout the day.

If you are planning a trip somewhere, tell them about it weeks in advance.  Go over the schedule regularly with your child before you leave. Make sure your trip is planned out well, so hopefully nothing out of the ordinary happens that isn’t on your to-do list!   Have a plan B for rainy weather.  You could even create a personalised schedule for your child, for the trip so they feel they have their own routine. And let them bring some of their favourite toys and teddies to help them feel secure when in strange, and unfamiliar places.

Good inside at home activities for special needs:

  • Slime  This is a great activity to stimulate your child’s senses Just mix 1½ cups of clear glue and 1½ cups of liquid starch together in a bowl and add a bit of food colouring. You could also separate the slime into different bowls and add a different food colouring to each to make a rainbow of colours to play with! 
  • Water-beads  These are colourful squishy balls, and are a great sensory activity you can do all sorts of things with. Throw them into the tub during bath time.  Put them in a large bowl of water to play with, play colour recognition games, and more!
  • Cook  Bring them into the kitchen to help you cook or do other activities. This all depends on what you are making and how interested your child is. If there is dough involved, get your child to knead and roll it. Decorating cookies is a great activity for some kids as well.
  • Art  Kids love being creative and artistic. Crayons, pencils, paint brushes and chalk are available in different shapes and sizes which helps children to hold them easily.
  • Puppets, Put on a puppet show! This can be done with sock puppets, finger puppets or toys. Your child will want to put on a puppet show too. This then leads into creating more puppets.
  • Books/music, Read books to your child/ or play music and sing along to their favourite songs. Give them an instrument to shake or strum.
  • Ball pit Fill a bath or baby pool up with balls, or cut up swimming noodles and make a ball/noodle pit. Sit your child in the pool/bath and it’s a great sensory stimulation play.
  • Quiet time  Most kids need their quiet time. You could create a box with “quiet time toys” in it such as soft teddies and toys they can play with on their own. You can make quiet time more interesting and fun by throwing a blanket over some furniture to make a tent. They can sit or lie in the tent with their quiet time toys.

You know your child’s needs the best and depending on your child’s abilities and personality, different activities may, or may not be ideal. Sometimes the simplest ideas work the best. Try some of these ideas, be creative and have fun!

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