Tips For Taking a Special Needs Child To An Outdoor Event
It’s now the summer season of outdoor events and outdoor activities. I just saw a flyer for a music in the park activity. There are even movies at the parks. All kinds of outdoor events! And I always have parents ask me for tips for dealing with these types of events.
Advantages of an Outdoor Event
These events can be really nice for our kids. The outdoor movie in the park can have a lot of advantages over the movie in a theater, and vice versa. With the indoor movie, you don’t have to battle the heat or the bugs, but you’re in a structured environment in which it’s more difficult to leave if the child feels anxious. Certain behaviors can be more difficult to handle at an indoor movie unless it’s a sensory-friendly movie.
Leave When You Want
But when you’re outdoors at a park movie, you can leave whenever you want! You can just pack up your chair and go! You can also arrive whenever you want. You have more versatility in choosing where to sit. Of course, if it’s a very crowded event you’ll have less control. But typically you have plenty of space and plenty of control. You have more control over the food as well, which can make a huge difference. You can buy food from the vendors at the event, but usually, you can bring your own food as well.
What about firework events? These events are usually very crowded, so you have to be prepared and plan for those types of crowds.
Get There Early
For any type of outdoor event, I recommend you get there early so that you have more choice and can get the seating you want. I also recommend that you make sure your car is easily accessible and that you have an escape route if you have to pack up and leave quickly. Bring a comfort item, or a few comfort items, from home.
If your child has auditory issues you might bring headphones. Even though you may know the general theme of the music at a music in the park event, there might be several different bands playing and you might not know what kinds of music you’re going to hear. And depending on where you sit, the music can be extremely loud. Headphones can help your child to be more comfortable.
When One Child Does Not Have Special Needs
Often our families are blended, in that some of our kids are typically-developing kids while others have sensory and developmental issues. This can make it difficult for some of our kids who don’t get to go to many events because of a sibling who might have challenges. These outdoor events are the kind of activities that work well to go to as a family. You may have to warn the siblings in advance that if their brother or sister has problems, you may have to leave quickly. If you use the “divide and conquer” tactic, one parent can stay with the kids who are better tolerating the event, while the other can go home with the kiddo who is not. Sometimes bringing two cars helps in this situation.
Your Next Step
I hope you enjoy these types of events because we have many of them in the Collin County area! If you have any questions about how to handle outdoor events with your kiddo, give us a call! We’d be happy to give you ideas and talk to you about options.