Adaptive Play For Children With Special Needs


So, you see a kid that has a disability or two. The kid that is bound to a wheelchair and cannot walk or has limited to no use of his limbs. Do you ever wonder "How does that child play?" Well, if you haven't I am sure that thought provoking question has began to ponder your brain. Well, my son is that child. However, don't feel bad, seriously! He is great! We are making sure we keep him busy and include him on all of the fun that we believe he can possibly have. However, this is for the mother or family that is struggling to find an adequate way to keep their child engaged (besides television) and actually enjoy the art of play.


You see, I have not always been a "Play extraordinaire" I mean, I am actually not! However, I can tell you a little bit about what I like to call Adaptive Play. Its not always easy trying to maneuver around this world in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, ideas and methods of play were not designed for the small population of children that cannot play at your local parks. Fortunately, with groups like special olympics and the special parks and recreation centers, the idea of play has been a bit more feasible for these beautiful budding children. I have always been interested in making sure my children have fun but the actual notion of play came to be once I attended a book signing for a woman named Meredith Sinclair who wrote a book called "Be Well Played." I have to admit, it was like a light bulb had gone off ! I have actually been reaching out to her sporadically since then, I am sure she may be afraid that I am a stalker. Though, that is not the intent, I love her ideologies regarding what it means to play and incorporating play into all aspects of your life and all ages. All of a sudden this way of thinking made so much sense to me.

The year was 2000 and my partner in crime, sister/cousin (no incest. we are cousins but felt like sisters) passed away at age 17 from cancer. It wasn't until recently, while talking about her to my husband and sharing all the fun we once had, that I realized, that's when fun died for me, it died the day "Yada" died. My ideas of fun seemed to had evolved and were no longer "fun." I was no longer interested in riding roller coasters or playing games of any sort. I have to admit, it's amazing how things that you bury in your life resurface later in the form of an epiphany. I remember playing endlessly at local indoor amusement places like Enchanted Castle and Disney Quest (which no longer exists) until the places would close down! Literally, just her and I. As I reflect back, that was so much fun! Although, I am still not interested in roller coasters (there is something about them I just can't vibe with), I have found a new found true sense of enjoyment for having fun and sharing that with my children.

Adaptive play is whatever the parent determines is safe for the child, within the abilities of the child all in the name of fun. This is decided by the parent as the parents are the people that understand their child's current thresholds for discomfort and abilities. I have decided that I would like to help those families that struggle with how to create fun and engaging moments with their child (besides television) by sharing my experiences and and providing them with ideas for the child that is limited to their wheelchair. When we share some of the fun activities that our son has participated in, it has left people in awe. They are actually, surprised at the "risk taking" roller coasters that he has ridden however, its important that as the parent you understand and know what you child can handle. I will tell you, our son Jay loves a challenge!


There are many toys on the market that are for children without disabilities however, that doesn't mean that we cannot use those toys and make them adaptable for the child that has limited abilities. This will not be an overnight quest, however, I feel it is necessary. Very often I see parents with children who have limited abilities and they seem to not be too sure how to incorporate play into the lives of their child. Most often, you see these kids sitting in the background watching and that is something that I would like to challenge parents to change. I am excited to share my experiences in hopes that they benefit you!

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