Fun With Your Special Needs Child:

Lekotek of Georgia

School’s out and it’s time to have fun, whether it’s at home, on a field trip, at a playground or in a pool. Atlanta Parent compiled some ideas to get you started, including play in your own back yard.

by Amanda Miller Allen

Play at Home

It’s amazing what you can do with a 20 pound bag of rice. Lekotek of Georgia colors some of the rice – a big bag costs less than $10 – then puts it on a former water table for sensory fun. Lekotek hides objects in the rice, including jewels, plastic animals and water toys, for kids to find, executive director Helen Prokesch says. This activity is especially good for kids who have impaired vision.

Kids also can swirl and create designs with the rice. A tub filled with rice also works well – kids can sit in it much like a sandbox as they hunt for objects or make designs, Prokesch says. Lekotek offers monthly play sessions for kids with disabilities, as well as summer computer camps; find out more at

For outdoor fun, try volleyball with a twist – using balloons instead of a ball, says Heather Petersen, a physical therapist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The balloons stay up in the air longer, and there’s no danger of a hard ball landing on your child’s head.

Other ideas she suggested: Painting with watercolors or finger-painting, using sidewalk chalk, creating with Play-Doh, putting shaving cream on a mirror to create designs (easy cleanup when you’re done!), playing with bubbles, creating artwork in semi-darkness by using a light saber or flashlight, and making fun and easy snacks such as pizza or ice cream.

Petersen says inflatable pools are great for more than just water, though kids love them with water, too. Use them for a ball pit or to make a sandbox for sensory play.

Outdoor fun at home also can include games such as hide-and-seek or treasure hunt. Kids can grow a plant or flower or help tend a small garden. You can create your own water park fun with garden sprinkler. Another idea: Make a tent inside your home or outside using blankets or sheets and chairs – grab a favorite book and read under the “tent.”

Take a Trip

Spash in a Pool

Visit a Playground

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