If you are parent to a special needs child and are looking for ideas and activities, then we have compiled this list of useful online resources for parents of special needs children:
Don’t miss our best content straight to your inbox! Sign up now and get our FREE newsletters packed with fun ideas and things to do with the kids, family-friendly recipes, expert advice, parenting tips and great competitions.
A very big thanks to Yve from Carmona School who helped us compile this list.
Online Resources for Special Needs Children
NCSE Online Resources
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has online resources with a different theme of the week every week.
You can access the full list of the online resources here.
Lámh Signs Online
With children and families staying home amid the COVID 19 pandemic, Lámh is offering free and open access to Lámh Signs Online until May 31st 2020. This resource has videos of all Lámh signs, including timely signs like Wash Hands, Space, Hot, Clean, Doctor.
Attention and Listening Activities
Attention and listening skills are very important for children to be able to make sense of the words they hear and to respond to others. They form the foundation for the development of language and literacy skills.
This great document from NCSE offers lots of tips on how to develop listening skills, as well as numerous games and activities to help boost concentration and attention.
Sensory Food & Cooking
The Food Dudes website has a sensory food activity you can download here.
You could make Swedish pancakes or Apple Biscuits.
There are also visual recipes for non-readers on the Paths To Literacy website, as well as a good list of websites that have visual recipes here.
Art and Sensory Activities
The Ark Dublin
The Ark @ Home is a way for children who are home from school to connect with The Ark through at series of at-home arts activities, virtual events, online screenings of live performances and much more.
Dough and Clay Art
Making your own salt dough is a very versatile activity – whip up a batch, get hands on, and transform it into anything from trinkets and keepsakes to gifts and Christmas ornaments. Once baked and cooled, the dough is ready to paint and keep.
You can also add a subtle scent to your dough that will remain even after baking, turning this into a sensory experiment. Scent suggestions include ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, lemon, orange, clove, nutmeg, mixed spice, coffee, peppermint or vanilla.
A similar activity is this baking soda clay activity from CBC Parents, where your child’s handprint makes a really nice keepsake.
Make Your Own Playdough
Here’s a super easy Playdough recipe you can make. It will keep for weeks if stored in resealable plastic bags with a little bit of oil.
Sensory Box Ideas
Sensory boxes provide hands-on learning that is both visually and texturally attractive to kids, and are particularly beneficial for children with special needs.
These simple sensory box ideas allows children to not only receive sensory stimulation, but they are learning about cause and effect, developing fine motor skills, engaging their imagination, and being creative.
There are opportunities for problem solving and decision making, and they can boost confidence and self-esteem along with many other skills.
You May Also Enjoy How to Make Sensory Bottles and Calm Down Jars
Deirdre Sullivan, writer and teacher of children with autism, presents how to make a sensory poem or story.
The tips are particularly suitable for encouraging people with communication and sensory needs to engage with different forms of literature and to build up a positive connection.
There are also lots of great online story time sessions you can enjoy watching and listening to together. Some of these story times are at set times, while others can be accessed any time online or through one of your devices.
Handy Customisable Templates
Prepare Me has some free downloads that you can use and customise to your child, there’s a First Then template and also 4 choice and 6 choice I Want templates.
…And For Parents
Finally, don’t forget about yourself. The HSE are running stress control courses to help with wellbeing.
Here are some tips for how to look after your own mental health as a special needs parent, as well as some great ideas on how to de-stress with just a few minutes each day.
You May Also Enjoy How To De-Stress During Stressful Times: Essential Tips For Parents
Have your say! Any other online resources for parents of special needs children that we should include on our list? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!