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.
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.
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.
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!”
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