It’s February now, and as parents, we’ve already faced down two long months of cold weather driving our active, sensory-seeking kiddos right back inside. Regardless of whether your child has an autism diagnosis, as parents of young children, we’re all just looking for ways to keep our kids happy and active (without destroying the house), no matter the season.
At Innovative Behavior Options, we know the importance of keeping kids stimulated (and how easy it is to run out of ideas two months into winter!), so we wanted to throw out a few suggestions of our own.
Stay Active and Expend Some Energy
For just about all kids, regardless of autism or ADHD diagnosis, it’s easier to focus and behave if they’ve had a chance to expend some energy. With most playground and parks being a no-go this time of year, we have a couple ideas for alternative outlets.
Not far from our Roswell, GA therapy center, we have a number of places that offer indoor bounce houses, play areas, and even several trampoline parks that are great winter alternatives to outdoor playgrounds. And if you’re really in a pinch and your son or daughter just needs to get some wiggles out, we love using the indoor playgrounds at fast food restaurants.
Indoor swim lessons are also a great option this time of year! It allows kids to be active, focus on learning (or perfecting) a new skill, and it’s something novel and fun in February.
Sensory-Friendly Community Activities
If you’re looking for an opportunity to get out of the house and expand your child’s horizons a little, we love interactive community activities that allow children to be comfortable just the way they are. In our area, we’re fortunate enough to have both children’s museums and science museums (such as Fernbank and Tellus) that offer hands-on components that are perfect for sensory-friendly exploration. Of course, some of the exhibits can get busy, so if crowds are a concern, we recommend calling ahead to find lower-traffic times.
We’re also fortunate to have local production groups and theaters that include sensory-friendly play and movie options. Elm Street Cultural Arts Village in Woodstock and at least one AMC Theater in Atlanta each offer sensory-friendly productions that include lower volume, dimmed (instead of off) lights, and space for children to stand, dance, cry, or calm down.
At Home Sensory Activities
With the cold weather and the extra effort to bundle up in coats before going out, we also want to offer some ideas for sensory-friendly indoor activities.
Playdough is a tried and true favorite for so many of our children. It provides the sensory-input many kids crave and can help strengthen fine motor skills. Store-bought Playdough can have a strong smell, though, so if the odor is a problem, there are a number of quick and easy homemade options out there.
We also love using puzzles to help kids calm down and practice focusing. There are so many different age-appropriate options, many with some of our kid’s most beloved characters (the extra motivation never hurts!). If you have a more active child who could use a little entertainment while working on their ability to focus, we also love playing Twister! It’s great for developing gross motor skills, and it’s a quieter game that requires some real concentration.
Of course, sometimes you’re at home and just need to get the wiggles out. If you have a child who can handle a little noise, we’re big fans of the family dance party!
At IBO, we love helping our clients learn new skills and thrive in their environments. We use applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to help each person achieve their goals. If you’d like to learn more about ABA therapy or our Roswell, GA therapy center, please give us a call at 770-250-0093!