Apple picking, pumpkin farm visits, petting zoos, and fall festivals. The season is about to change, and in metro Atlanta, there is no better time to get outside and enjoy some family-friendly activities. As parents, we’ll spend time prepping and packing for each of these events. For parents of a child with special needs, there may a little more prep work to do – let us help!
Planning Fall Activities for Your Child with Special Needs
Here are a few ideas to consider as you plan some fall fun for your family!
Focus on activities that capture your kid’s interest
Not every fall activity is going to be fun for every kid. Instead of trying to do it all, choose something that you know your child will enjoy. For kids who like animals, check out a petting zoo. If your kiddo is all about snacks, maybe apple picking is the way to go. And fall festivals are great for children who like rides.
Just remember to skip things like hayrides if your kiddo has any tactile or smell sensitivities.
Make it a learning experience
There’s no shame in multitasking. As long as your kiddo is engaged, why not make the most of it. “Can we count the apples we’ve picked?”
Set limits ahead of time
No one likes surprises. And that’s especially true for children with autism. In addition to going over rules and behavior before arriving, consider managing expectations, too. For example, “We each get to choose one pumpkin.” Or “We’ll ride ten rides at the fair. Will you help me count?”
Consider headphones for a noisy fair
If you know your child is sensitive to loud noises, consider bringing along a pair of headphones. Fairs and festivals can have loud, unfamiliar sounds that can be overwhelming.
Choose the time of day that works best for your kiddo
Maybe you have an early riser—capitalize on that and take a trip early in the day. Perhaps your child hits his stride in the afternoon. Try to avoid times that conflict with nap or other points in the day when your child may need a little extra peace and quiet.
Bring your own snacks
Just about every fall festival or fair has some sort of concession stand. But that doesn’t mean they’ll offer your kiddo’s favorite snack. Bring along a few easy snack foods to avoid anyone getting hungry and cranky.
Don’t stay too long
The goal is to have fun! Make the most of your time out but try not to push it to the limit. Calling it a day before your kiddo is too tired will increase the chances that the ride home is a bit more pleasant and that your child is interested in the next activity you plan, too.
At Innovative Behavior Options, we partner with families to find balance and teach independence. Our ABA therapy clients range from infants to adults. Learn more on our website!