Like all children, it’s important for children with special needs to interact and play so that they can build their confidence, have fun and form relationships with others. Communication and cognitive delays can sometimes make it difficult for children with special needs to interact and play, however, there are things that you can do to help support them. In this blog, SpecialKids Company will give you some ideas and tips on how ro help kids with special needs interact and play
Practice Turn Taking and Sharing
There are many ways in which you can practice turn taking and sharing, which is an important part of learning to play with others. For example, you could use a board game or an interactive one on a tablet. If your child finds it difficult to take turns you might find that prompts will help, such as holding up a symbol card that reminds them to wait or holding up your hand. You should encourage your child by praising them when they successfully wait and share as this will reinforce the positive behaviour.
Inviting Friends Home
If there are children that your child connects with at school or at play groups. Encourage friendships by inviting the children they suggest for after-school playdates. Your child will usually be more relaxed in their home environment and will be more able to work on appropriate social interaction. It is also beneficial to talk to your child afterwards to discuss what they learnt and what they would like to do next time to continue encouraging these types of interactions.
Using Social Stories to develop play skills
Social stories can be used to help children with special needs understand situations and interact with others. A social story might help your child to develop a certain play skill and manage social situations with their peers. There are lots of social stories available online or you can create your own tailored to your child’s specific needs.
Lend a helping a hand
If your child or their peer needs help, don’t be afraid to step in and do so. Sometimes children need encouragement or help to interact and play and stepping in to help them can help to prevent frustration and upset. Things won’t always go according to plan but if you can make interacting and playing with others as enjoyable as possible for your child, chances are they will want to try it again.
Easy activities to try
Sensory play is fun and therapeutic. The stimulation can help to improve the connections in the brain which are important for learning. It can help to develop fine motor skills and improve emotional development by providing an outlet for sensory deficits or overload. Sensory play is a positive experience that children with special needs can benefit from and share together regardless of age and ability.
Music is a universal language that everyone speaks. It can help children with special needs to interact and understand themselves as well as those around them.
Instruments can be a really fun thing for children to play with together and it doesn't have to be expensive. It can be as simple as using a handmade ‘shaker’ with a bottle and dried beans. Music can teach children how to take turns, listen, respond and participate in an activity.
Art is another great tool to help children with special needs play and interact. It’s a creative outlet that needs no words and can be accessible for all. It’s another great sensory experience that can encourage meaningful interaction.
We hope that these ideas help.
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