Parenting Special Needs Magazine March/April 2017 : Page 51

therapy fun & functional to toy trucks under tables and on windowsills. It’s a great way to let your child get familiar with their new environment while working on walking or wheeling. 4. Towel Stretches: Roll up one or a few towels (depending on the needs of your child) and position them under their arms while lying prone to stretch those chest, neck, and back muscles. Encourage them to lift their head for extra core work. Try it yourself. It’s harder than it sounds. 5. Special Yoga: Special needs yoga can be done anywhere. You can look up free YouTube videos or bring along some DVDs. We like Yogability. This is a great morning or bedtime activity. The poses are gentle and relaxing and easy for you to do with your child. 6. Pool Time: See if you can get access to a pool, either at your hotel or the nearest recreational center. Even if you do nothing but let your child experience weightlessness for ten minutes, it will be worth it. The benefits of aquatic therapy are endless. It loosens up all the muscles that stretching might miss. Outdoors: If you have access to water: magic as the pool. You also get the added bonus of balance work while bobbing and dodging waves. 2. Beach wheelchairs: Everyday wheelchairs become impossible to navigate in sand. Check to see if your resort or nearby beach rental stores carry specially designed beach wheelchairs. These are 1. Ocean/Lake swimming: This works the same outfitted with larger and wider wheels so your child can roll along with the rest of the family without sinking. 3. Travel Sets: Bowling, horseshoes, and bats and balls: We often bring these along for a game the whole family. It encourages independent movement of each side of the body as they roll, throw, or swing. 4. Rafting/Canoeing: This is another great way to let your child work their core strength and participate with the rest of the family. As long as the water is gentle, your child can either sit in your lap with minimal assistance or you can bring along a travel chair. 5. Park Time: Swings sets and sandboxes and slides get everyone moving. To stimulate the leg muscles and provide a gentle counter weight, pile sand on top of your child’s legs so they can work both their abdominal and back muscles. 6. Hiking: Let your child hitch a ride on the family hike. Certain backpacks can fit a child up to 40 pounds. Just make sure you test it out first to make certain both you and your child are comfortable. We like the one by Ospray Poco AG Plus Child Carrier. The leg extension provides an excellent stretch for your child while you walk. 7. Horseback Riding: Equestrian therapy has been one of the biggest components in improving our son’s gait and balance. Check to see if your area has access to horseback riding. It does not have to be a facility that specializes in horse therapy. You will still see benefits by simply walking next to your child and providing most of the support. Now go have fun and get moving! w Jamie Sumner is mother to a son with cerebral palsy and Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome and is the author of the blog, The Mom Gene. Her son’s story has been featured in The Tennessean and LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION OF ARTICLE MAR/APR 2017 Parenting SPecial 51

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