10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19

As the United States braces for the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, most schools, day programs, and extracurricular activities have been cancelled for at least two weeks and probably longer. Keeping children busy during this time will be challenging for all parents. But when your child has a significant disability, the demands are even higher.

So, what’s a special needs parent to do? There’s no magic bullet. But we’ve come up with some suggestions for getting you and your children through this unprecedented health emergency.

Talk to your child
Depending upon your child’s developmental level, they have probably heard something about COVID-19. Explain the coronavirus in developmentally appropriate language and give your child the opportunity to ask questions. “Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies,” says the Child Mind Institute. Also explain how this will impact your family. For example, mom and dad will be working from home; school will be cancelled or online, etc.

Maintain a routine
Children, especially those with autism and other developmental disabilities may find schedule changes and unstructured time anxiety-provoking. Develop a schedule that includes wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes, outdoor activities, learning sessions and free play. Review the schedule every morning, using visual prompts if they are helpful to your child. A Day in Our Shoes.com has printable schedules that you can download and use at home.

Hire a mother’s helper or two
School’s out for everyone, so hire some tweens to come over and supervise your kids. Their parents will thank you! It’ll be a win-win-win!

Tell a story
Story-telling is a great way for parents and children to bond. It’s also a wonderful way for children to learn. But children can benefit from story-telling even when you’re working in another room. Choose some audiobooks and have story-time at least once a day.

Water-play
Give your kids a sensory treat and make your home more sanitary by setting up a toy-washing station complete with sponges, scrub brushes and bubbles. Consider purchasing one of Enabling Devices’ water toys or bubble toys, so that everyone can join the fun.

Get Outdoors
It’s hard to find bright spots when you’re experiencing a pandemic, but at least it’s arrived just in time for spring. Make sure to build outdoor-time into your family’s schedule. Note: If playgrounds are part of the plan, make sure to take hand sanitizer and wipes for the equipment.

Try an online exercise program
Regardless of your child’s intellectual or physical limitations, there’s probably an online exercise program that meets their needs. Check out YouTube video workouts from Kym Nonstop, Spark or Scope. You can also try a Yoga for Kids video from Gaia.

Make slime!
Everybody loves slime! Here’s a great recipe from The Best Ideas for Kids!

Institute game-time
Board games are not only fun, they teach many valuable skills. Enabling Devices sells many adapted games, so everyone can play.

Learn online
Don’t let kids fall too far behind in their studies. Scholastic Learn at Home just launched 20 days of free online learning activities for kids stuck at home due to the coronavirus. The lessons are geared to preschoolers to 6th grade and beyond.

Six Steps to Fitness in 2020

Two People in Wheelchairs Exercising in a Dance Studio

What’s the most common New Year’s resolution for 2020? You guessed it. Exercise more. That makes sense, since, along with a balanced diet and good medical care, exercise is one of the most important components of physical and mental health. Though physical fitness is just as important for people with disabilities as it is for others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “children and adults with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities are at greatest risk for obesity.” Obesity leads to other health problems including: cardiovascular disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout. So, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Starting an exercise routine when you or your child has a disability can be challenging. So, we’ve put together some suggestions designed to help you get started. Here’s to a fit 2020!

Consult with your doctor
Never begin an exercise routine without making sure it is safe. Your doctor can help you to determine the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise that’s appropriate for you. Check in with the doctor before making any major changes to your exercise regimen.

 Consider what types of exercise you might enjoy
Do you like water activities? Would you prefer exercising indoors or outdoors? Are you more successful working with a coach or therapist, or on your own? Selecting an exercise program that’s designed especially for you, will help to ensure success.

Buddy up
Many of us are more likely to stick with an exercise routine when we work out with a friend. Find someone who has similar fitness goals and you can encourage each other to keep moving.

Try something new
Too frequently, fears and insecurities prevent us from pursuing our goals. Adaptive sports such as skiing, basketball, skateboarding, horseback riding, biking and many more make it possible for people with mobility limitations to do things that they never dreamed possible. Visit disabledsportsusa.org to learn more.

Use fitness videos and audios
Many of us prefer to exercise in the privacy of our own homes. If that’s your preference, you can find many videos especially for wheelchair users on YouTube. Check out videos from KimNonStop or Lucy Wyndham-Read’s YouTube channels for some examples. For blind individuals, Eyes-Free Fitness offers exercise programs with non-visual cues and descriptions.

Take the Evolve 21 Challenge
The “first inclusive exercise app for people of all abilities,” the Evolve 21 Challenge (formerly known as the CPF Challenge) not only offers daily 7-minute routines of cardio, yoga and meditation, it’s also a fundraiser for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation!

Don’t quit!
Sticking with an exercise routine is tough for everyone. Chances are, they’ll be times when you just don’t have the motivation or will-power to work out. But staying fit isn’t about perfection. Rather it’s a lifelong process that leads to good health and well-being. If you fall off the exercise wagon, don’t give up! Get back on track as soon as you can!

We at Enabling Devices wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!