How to make your special child happy and productive with these fun activities

If you have a child with special needs, this guide is for you. Dr Surabhi Verma, gives you tips on enhancing your special child's creativity with fun activities.

Activities for special childrenMany people assume that creativity is an inborn talent that children either do or do not have. But that is one of the biggest misconceptions people have, just as all children are not equally intelligent, all children are not equally creative. Creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill we can help children develop. Not limited to artistic and musical expression, creativity is also essential for science, math, social and emotional intelligence. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change, and take advantage of new opportunities.

But intelligence is not only about how well your child solves a problem in math or how well he/she can pick up concepts. According to experts, children have eight distinct types of intelligence, they are:

  • Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence: These children have well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words.
  • Mathematical-Logical Intelligence: Children with this type of intelligence have theability to think conceptually and abstractly with the capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns
  • Musical Intelligence: These children have the ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber of music.
  • Visual-Spatial Intelligence: With this type of intelligence a child has thecapacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly
  • Bodily-KinaestheticIntelligence: These children will have the ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skilfully.
  • Interpersonal Intelligence: Here a child will have thecapacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence: A child with this type of intelligence will have the capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes
  • Naturalist Intelligence: These children have theability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature

Even a child with special needs possess these intelligences in varying amounts and each child has a different intellectual composition. These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together. Therefore each child will have at least one area in which he/she may be really good at and that is the area that the parents and caregivers need to find and develop. Read more about understanding developmental delays in your child.

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Many virtues have been attributed to art and how it can contribute to our lives. Any form of art helps individual to vent out their hidden desires and frustrations and that is why it is all the more important for children with disabilities. Art is a way to work with children who have disabilities toward the achievement of all sorts of goals. To name a few:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Color recognition
  • Sequential thought
  • Matching
  • Visual acuity
  • Action concepts

Another advantage of developing a talent for any form of art is fun, it engages, and is one medium where there is no right or wrong answer. It also helps to create a leisure activity for the child with special needs so that they are not only engrossed in learning concept in the classroom.

Few activities which you can engage in with your children at home are:

  • Dance competition: Put on music and have a dance competition! This activity helps you and your child bond and makes him or her feel free to express themselves in your presence -- helping your child open up and become stress free.
  • Dress yourself: Using either a large piece of card or lining paper, draw around each other to create life-size figures. Then cut up old clothes to dress your portraits up.
  • Sensory games: Mix flour and water together to make a great sensory play tool. If you find that a bit too messy you could also put flour into a plastic bag with some food colouring and seal it. As it gets squished round it will change colour. Alternatively, you could also use play dough for your child to learn about different colours and making colourful shapes.
  • Paint wall: Stick some blank paper on a wall and turn it into a 'paint wall'. You can also paint a wall with blackboard paint or put up a big white board for fun. This allows your child to express their creativity in any direction and colour they want. Without the hindered of 'staying inside the lines' while colouring, your child is sure to feel exhilarated!
  • Skating: Strap some skates on and get one for your child too. Not only is skating fun, it will also teach your child to build concentration, spatial awareness and balance. Above all it is a fun activity which you and your child will enjoy. A word of caution -- do invest in good safety gear like a helmet, knee and elbow pads for your child. Allow him/her to skate only with them on. Remember safety comes first.
  • Swimming: Most children love water and any form of water play. Therefore swimming is an activity that most children will find interesting. Apart from being therapeutic in nature, swimming will help your child gently strengthen his/her muscles, develop awareness, help with dexterity and gives them the ability to stay alert.
  • Playing on tablet/ I-pad: There are a number of applications available that are fun for your child and can be a great way to learn new concepts through games.

Apart from all the fun you can have with your child, remember that it is very important for you to praise and encourage your child with special needs. The aim of the activities is for your child to feel comfortable, happy and engage in the activities with interest and fervor. So much so that he/she should look forward to the next session with you. As a parent, you need to be patient and not expect your child to be a perfect at the activity from day one. Eventually, with the continuous support from you and the physician tending to your child, your child with special needs will definitely find activities that give them pleasure and are meaningful.

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