Finding the right activities for kids with a disability

Beyond the classroom, children today are spoilt for choice when it comes to extracurricular activities. Dancing, swimming, piano lessons, karate, art … the list is unending. But what about if your child has a disability? Should they be doing after-school activities, too?

It’s a great idea to get your child involved in an extracurricular activity. It gives them the opportunity to connect with other children their age and become part of a community. Activities help them become more confident, make new friends, learn new skills, and build their health and wellbeing.

What’s right for your child?

As with any child, find activities that are both enjoyable and stimulating. Some kids are sporty, and some are creative.

Children with autism, for example, may find that the noise and stress associated with team sports is too overwhelming. Instead, they may thrive in sports like swimming or rock-climbing, where they are in control and the environment is more predictable.

Or even better is if you can find a class or time of day where you have the pool or rock-climbing gym to yourselves. Some centres also offer classes specifically for people with sensory needs, so you may want to call around.

Here are some tips to help you narrow down your search for the right activity:

  • Ask your child what they want to do – give them the opportunity to provide an opinion and help in the decision-making process. It’s a great way to get them engaged in the activity from the outset.
  • Think about their abilities and their disability – what does your child like doing? What are they good at? You want them to enjoy their extracurricular activities and feel proud of what they are achieving. At the same time, consider their disability. For example, if they use a wheelchair and want to get involved in team games, then something like balloon netball could be just the ticket.
  • Consider programs designed for kids with a disability – there are many after-school programs out there for kids with a disability. Depending on your location and your child, these might be just what they need; a safe space where they can be themselves and thrive.
  • Speak to the organisers – find out what the activity or program involves, and how it can be modified to suit your child. Are the instructors trained to support kids with a disability? Are they inclusive? Can you negotiate an extended trial period, just in case it turns out that it’s not right for your child?

Finding the right activity can involve some trial and error, just as it can for any child. You might enrol your child for a term’s worth of classes, only to find after three weeks that they are not enjoying it. But by trying a few different types of activities, you’ll soon get a sense of what they like doing and where they feel most comfortable.

The building blocks of a lifetime

Remember, finding hobbies or activities that your child enjoys doing now can help to set them up for life.

Whether it’s singing, acting, playing an instrument, playing a game, drawing or something completely different – exploring different options now really is worth the effort. You’re helping them build their skills and confidence doing something they love, and these skills will last a lifetime.

If you’re not sure where to start, Scope is here to help. Get in touch with our friendly team today to have a chat about your child and the types of activities they might be interested in.