Read in 2 mins Leader Resources » Ministry Basics » Safety & Security » Teacher Tips » Special Needs Tips Print / Download Article Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email Special Needs: What You Need to Know About Playground Safety Published: June 21, 2023 All kids love playgrounds! If you minister to children with special needs, here’s what you need to know about keeping your kids safe as they play. Chances are you take kids outside to play group games or use playground equipment. Part of that means considering the needs of children with special needs so you can include them and keep them safe. Special Needs: What You Need to Know About Playground Safety Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, playgrounds are more accessible to children with disabilities. Even so, it’s a good idea to check your play area for safety hazards, fences, poisonous plants, proper shade, and emergency access for kids with special needs. Here are other things to consider. Physical Disabilities Ensure that your play area has well-located ramps and accessible surfaces such as wood chips or shredded rubber. A child who falls frequently may need to wear a protective helmet. Learning Disabilities Take time to explain a game carefully and demonstrate how to play. If needed, allow a child extra time to take a turn. Use this as an opportunity to teach other children patience. Autism Spectrum Disorders Be aware of sensory issues with things such as excessive noise or heat. Children with high pain tolerance may not know when the slide is too hot. Direct a child who mouths objects to safer activities, and help that child avoid sandboxes. Emotional/Behavior Disorders Show children their boundaries. Discuss a child’s behavioral plan with volunteers in advance so they can consistently apply rewards or consequences. Visual and Hearing Impairments “Peer Buddies” work well to help these children be more aware of their surroundings and learn basic signs of communication. When you make the effort to include children with special needs in recreation, parents notice. Safety helps you create an environment that shows all kids the love of God. Want to see the power of including children with special needs? Check out Jason McElwain’s story by searching on YouTube for “The Power of a Dream Changes Lives!” Pat Verbal is the co-author of Special Needs Ministry for Children (Group) and manager of curriculum development at the Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability. Special Needs Ministry for Children is a great book for answering all your questions on special needs, and it’s packed with case studies and personal stories from recognized experts in this ministry field—such as Pat Verbal! Want more articles regarding children with special needs? Check out these posts! © Group Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No unauthorized use or duplication permitted. Get our FREE enewsletter! Join thousands of other children’s ministry leaders, getting fresh, helpful ideas delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign Up Please enter valid email address Sign Up Recieve offers and promos from Group? Got it! Would you also like offers and promos from Group? Yes! No Thanks, you're all set!