How to Approach March/Spring Break

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(For the Special Needs Family)

March break, also known as spring break, can be as challenging as it is exciting for families with special needs children. On the one hand, it’s a chance for your child to get away from the stresses that school can bring with it, as well as offer new and different opportunities to learn and grow, not to mention have fun. On the other hand, school provides structure, routine, and predictability, and breaking from this can often be stressful for special needs individuals.

So how do you make sure your special needs child gets the enjoyment and experience they deserve without it becoming a counterproductive disaster? We’ve got some ideas.

Go for a Family Adventure

Who says march break has to mean finding somewhere to send your child off to do things on their own all day? You can eliminate the stress that unfamiliar situations and groups of people can cause by planning an adventure for the family. If possible, try to bring everyone along, though if this isn’t doable, even just you and your child can go do something together that there isn’t normally enough time in the day or days in the week to get around to between school, work, etc.

A few possible adventures:

  • Go to a museum. Especially an interactive children’s museum. This is a great way for your child to stimulate their brain, learn, and be engaged and having fun.
  • Go to the Library. You can not only look for some good books with your child, but also attend events like story time and similar activities, if your local library provides them. Look them up and find out!
  • Head to a theme park. This won’t be an issue for everyone, as some special needs children may not be able to handle the noise, or enjoy the many fun activities a theme park has to offer, but it’s worth consideration depending on the particular sensitivities of your child.
  • Go the movies, or an ice skating rink, or…pretty much anything else that might be fun. The point is, it doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking to count as an adventure. Anywhere you go with your child where they can have fun and feel comfortable is a place worth going to.

Don’t Rule Out Camps

For many special needs families, a march break camp may not seem like a viable option. However, there are many such camps that don’t involve spending the night at the camp, and that allow you to stay and be there in case your child gets overwhelmed and needs you. There are also camps specifically geared towards special needs children. Do some research and find out what’s near you! You might be surprised.

Stay In

Staying home doesn’t have to be boring or stressful either! There are plenty of activities you can plan to make the most of the time off. You could have your child help with spring cleaning, not by scrubbing the floors or washing the windows, but by helping them organize, decorate, rearrange, etc. These types of activities not only help you get things done, but they challenge your child to practice cognitive skills like problem solving, language, and expression. You might also consider making sock puppets and putting on a show for the rest of the family, or setting up a scavenger hunt that takes your child around the house, and maybe into the backyard or the neighborhood (supervised, of course). The point here is staying in can be just as fun as going out, but don’t sit around and do nothing, get creative!