Play and interaction are essential for the overall growth of children. Through these activities, kids develop social skills, imbibe important values, and build emotional and cognitive abilities.
However, special needs children require special needs parenting to learn how to play and interact with others. While these kids face developmental delays relative to certain activities, there are several alternate ways to encourage their creative potential and boost their self-awareness. Below is a description of some great techniques to help special needs kids in playing and interacting.
Listen and observe
Every child has a different personality and thus, a distinct approach to grasp new skills and abilities. So, firstly you may want to observe how your child prefers to learn new things. For example, some kids like reading tasks, some learn better by listening, and others are inclined to hands-on experiments. Accordingly, you can plan games and other interactive group activities for the child. Besides, you must pay attention to your child’s behaviour and feelings during these activities.
The primary step to inculcating healthy interactive skills in a child is to be responsive to his/her emotions.
Use visual aids
Visual aids can be effectively used to teach kids about communication skills. These may include illustrations that show interactions among kids like a child smiling, playing, asking, or making other gestures towards another child. Similarly, social stories can be used to boost play skills in special needs kids.
Like all children, children with disabilities are likely to imitate the behaviour of their elders. So, a good idea is to display behaviours that you want your kid to learn. If you keep repeating a particular set of words and actions, your kid will eventually pick up the same. Further, you can always encourage him/her to follow your example.
Try sensory and tactile activities
Sensory and tactile activities are beneficial for a child’s development and provide fun ways to help them learn. When special needs children enjoy specific tasks, they are bound to learn faster and better. Tactile activities improve their motor abilities as well as stimulate their emotional growth.
However, it is advised to plan such activities with extreme care as sometimes the kids get hurt during physical tasks. Hence, you may go a little slow on the sensory and tactile cues, keeping your child’s general health and nature in mind.
Engage in artistic tasks
Children of all types and ages love arts and crafts. In the case of special needs kids, art presents an excellent creative outlet for their feelings and ideas. You can involve them in painting, sketching, music, dance, and other such activities. Apart from inspiring unique skills in children, art tends to have a healing impact on them. Besides, it leads to a healthy association among kids.
Implement positive reinforcements
Positive reinforcements serve as a key to developing all sorts of skills in children. When you appreciate and compliment your kids for small achievements, they are motivated to accomplish more. At times, you may even reward the kid for his/her good behaviour with others. However, even when the child fails to catch up with the expected social conduct, you must handle it with a positive and sympathetic attitude.
Lastly, it is crucial to remember that you need to be patient and flexible with an intellectually disabled child for him/her to make meaningful progress. The charitable organization, Shri Guru Sankalpam, is committed to promoting the welfare of intellectually disabled kids. Parents of special needs children support the institute. To support us and learn more about special needs parenting, visit sgsankalpam.org.