We all want to give our children the perfect holiday experience. With children who receive in-home long-term pediatric care, however, we often need to re-define “perfect”. The fact is there are activities that children with advanced medical needs have difficulty participating in. But this does not mean you can’t give them a great holiday experience. You just need to alter your expectations and think creatively.
Though Christmas and New Years are fast approaching, there is still time to find some fun activities for your medically challenged child to do this year. Here are five ideas to get you started:
Take your Child to the Public Library: Your local public library is full of great resources for kids, and libraries are not nearly as noisy or crowded as shopping malls. The library provides the opportunity to read books and play age-appropriate games. Many libraries also have programs and activities that are geared toward special needs children.
Take your Child to a Sensory-Friendly Movie: Many movie theatres throughout the country are now offering sensory-friendly films for children with medical needs. For example, AMC offers a selection of screenings suitable for children with sensory-processing issues each month. During these showings, the theatre turns the lights up and the sound is lowered so it is not so overwhelming for the child. At most of these showings, children are also allowed to stand up, walk around inside the theatre, and even sing.
Take your Child to a Train Museum: Trains may fascinate a medically challenged child so one way to help them learn more about trains is to take them to an exhibition at your local train museum. Most major cities have one, and although they are not geared specifically for children with medical needs, they are still a fun outing that the whole family can enjoy. If you choose this activity, be sure to plan ahead and arrive early before the museum gets too busy.
Enroll your Child in an Art Class: Arts and crafts are wonderfully therapeutic for medically challenged kids. Working on art projects help bring out their creative side, and completing a project gives them a sense of accomplishment and builds their self-esteem. It is great to have arts and crafts kits at home for your kids to work on, but if you want to go a step further, you may want to consider enrolling them in an art class. Most major cities have art education centers that can accommodate medically challenged children. For example, if you are in the Phoenix area, you may want to consider ‘Arts for All’, a non-profit art school that has been catering to special-needs kids since 1985.
Enjoy a Sensory-Friendly Meal: Going out to eat is one of the most enjoyable activities Americans do as a family, and this is especially true during the holidays. But with a medically challenged child, it can be difficult to take the family out to your favorite restaurant. An organization called Anova has developed sensory-friendly kits to help make it easier for kids with special needs to eat out. These kits include a wipeable lap pad, sensory-friendly toys, noise-cancelling earmuffs, mood zone charts, feelings cards, and social stories. Anova also runs a sensory-friendly restaurant initiative. So far, these restaurants are only in northern California, but look for them to expand to into other states and regions in the coming years.