Our Special Needs writer share some greats tips below about indulging special interests for children with special needs.
For those on the Autism Spectrum, Special Interests are an incredibly important part of the human experience. Ranging from a love of trains to sports to superheroes, these interests pervade almost all aspects of life. For parents, constant verbal updates on the newest Avengers movie, including creation of plots, actor selection, director decisions and costuming critiques may make us…weary. But for the Aspie, these discussions never cease to be exhilarating. So, can a balance be made between mom and Special Interest? Yes!
Here are just a few ways to incorporate Special Interests into family activities.
- Have a movie night that highlights the Special Interest. This is super easy if your child’s interest is already on the big screen. If not, look for documentaries for those that love things grounded in the “real world” such as trains (think of railways across Europe, the history of the steam engine, etc.), world leaders (focus on a region or political preference) , and animals (consider domestication of horses, horse breeds, etc.). Many of these kids soak up facts like this mom does chocolates. The library can be your friend, here. *MOM TIP* stay off your tablet, etc., during this time, as your child will believe you are not fully sharing in this experience with him.
- Theme dinner around the interest. Does your child love Harry Potter? There are scads of websites that will help you theme a meal. Maybe she loves all things Scandinavian? This is a perfect way to introduce new foods as well as have some fun in the kitchen! Don’t forget to set the table to match the theme.
- Have a day of “free art”. This concept is super cheap and easy! All you need are (clean) recyclables, such as cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, as well as basic crafting supplies such as glue, tape, markers, paint, construction paper, cotton balls – and anything else to provide your child(ren) with tons to choose from! Clear off a work space and let them at it! You will be amazed at what they will create! *MOM TIP* Kids that are perfectionists may struggle a bit, but this is a good time to work on the concept of flexibility.
You may be asking (or having a family member wonder) why embrace and immerse the family into a child’s Special Interest? The answer is simple. It demonstrates interest in that child’s life. Your child will know this and it will mean so much to her! Trust this mom.
I’d love to hear your experiences below!