Parent’s Perspective: Recreation Options
When considering recreation options, it is always important to first objectively assess your child’s likes and talents. For example, if your child likes music, then you might consider a MP3 player that is suited for their age and ability. Music lessons, music therapy, and just plain karaoke singing and dancing make great activities (not to mention a great gift for Christmas or birthday). Personally, the Karaoke Machine with a cassette player to record the singing has brought many hours of fun to not just my visually impaired son, but to my entire family.
Some of the items used during recreation time may demand technical assistance. This would include the iPod, MP3s, Internet usage, downloading books, and computer games. It is important to have support in these areas so that frustration might not lead to disappointment for your child.
Fun time, down time: have you ever just considered just plain silliness and adaptation of sighted games? Who can laugh the hardest, who can jump on one foot for a minute? Simon says? Twister with tactile markings. What games do you have that can be adapted?
For younger children, I have found great success with phonic Leap Frog games and brailled “Go Fish” cards. We recently developed a game call Blind Tag. We blindfolded my 10-year-old sighted son and asked the 9-year-old visually impaired son to started counting so the 10-year-old could find him. We had great fun moving around the room, flying our VI son around so the 10-year-old couldn’t catch him. We never laughed so hard!!
Family Vacation Time
It was a surprise to see only a few hands go up in the room when asked “Do you take a yearly ‘retreat’ or trip?” One of the best things you can do for your family is to find a yearly trip to the same location year after year that they can depend on friendships and fun. Conventions for families of blind children, such as the annual NAPVI one, can be a source of great fun and forever friendships. Retreat or camping destinations such as Joni & Friends bring much-needed support and planned activities for families who have special need members.
The secret to affording and going is simply planning to go. Many organizations also offer financial assistance if you start early enough to apply. Planning may include going at a “down time,” calling ahead to see what accommodations they may offer, parking, special food, or if picnicking is allowed.
Other yearly vacation destinations that are family-oriented include Soulfest at Gilford NH, Storyland, Santa’s Village, Smugglers Notch Resort, Six Flaggs (or any theme park). This list can go on and one, but the point is that any destination you chose is a welcome relief from the “everyday” and if planned out well, will be a memory maker.
Clubs and organizations such as the YMCA may offer a opportunity you may not have considered. Rock climbing, anyone? How about Tae Kwan Do? Unless you try, you’ll never know. If it is a disaster, then at least you tried, but if it enhances your child’s life, then you have another thing your child can be very proud of that may lead to friendships and higher self-esteem.
Sometimes these activities take time on your part or siblings’ help—not always self-motivated.
- Reading: braille, electronic, digital, story boxes, iPad computer downloads
- Toys: Leap Pad, variety of toys, trampoline, BopIt, card games, Arthur or DW Dolls that speak, make-believe kitchens, fruit, imagination toys
- Music: practice, play, electronic drums, pianos, lessons
- Imitation of things like tackle football, safe play with siblings
- Swing in the basement
- Indoor jumpy house
- Obstacle course
- Seasonal: sprinkler, snow man, own fake tree and religious symbols
- Develop friendship with one peer, sighted or not
- Bike with extension
- Music therapy
- Therapeutic riding
Challenges with downtime at home—need a schedule for homework, music practice, night routine, etc. And change up, can get stuck on one thing. Enlist the help of others or family members.
- YMCA: tae quon Do, swimming, rock wall climbing
- Hands-on science museum
- Petting zoo
- Church: sing in choir or group
- Events: fairs, local agency events such as 911 with fire trucks and t-ball, parties
- Amusement park: call ahead for policies, price
- Boating, tubing, knee board, water skiiing, floating in life jacket
- Summer camps for blind vs other disabilities (babysitting)
- Hotel with a pool
- Music festival—using handicap access
- Skiing for the blind
- Smugglers Notch Resort
- Disney Land—have not done that yet!!
Things to consider: triggers to unwanted behaviors, social roleplay, walking distance, time of event, distance, tiredness, when to go that is not crowded, noise, food, etc.
Mother of a nine-year-old visually impaired son