If you have a child with Special Needs, I understand how important routine is and how difficult change can be. Having activities to look into before you move can give you time to help set expectations, create social stories and give your child something to look forward to. This activity list will get you started.
Finding activities for children with disabilities can be difficult even if you are from that location. My son has ASD so many of my personal experiences are related to local Autism Services but most of the activities that I’m going to talk about in this video are suitable for kids with a wide range of disabilities.
Swimming Lessons in St. John's
Let’s start off with Swimming Lessons. Swimming is my son’s absolute favourite activity. We were so happy to have found the Easter Seals Swimming Program. Lessons take place at the Ches Penney Family YMCA on Ridge Road in St. John’s. This is a newer facility and the family change room is also fully accessible. The program is reasonably priced and uses volunteer swimming instructors to create a one-one-one swimming experience for its participants. My son was nervous to get his face wet and his instructor patiently worked with him for months to become comfortable wearing goggles and now he absolutely loves swimming.
Inclusive swimming lessons are also offered at The Works – Aquarena, Mount Pearl Summit Centre and CBS Rec Centre. And we also participate in group swimming lessons at the Aquarena, and while the lessons are going great, it’s an older facility and the inclusive change room is very small and has no toilet or shower inside.
Community Connections Playtime
The next activity that I want to talk about is Community Connections Playtime hosted every couple of weeks at different locations across the city by a volunteer organization called Exceptional Connections NL and sponsored by the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador (ASNL). This playtime was designed to be a barrier-free place for everyone – including those with higher needs – to connect and be themselves. This event is free and no registration is required. There are lots of fun things to do from arts and crafts to sensory toys. This playgroup is open to all ages and is inclusive and accommodating. My son said that it was like a birthday party but without the cake.
Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Riding Centre
I don’t have personal experience with this next activity, but I have friends who have absolutely beautiful stories about their experience with Rainbow Riders. Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Riding Center is located on Mount Scio Road in St. John’s and has programs designed for both children and adults with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. There are so many physical and social-emotional benefits from their therapeutic riding and horse discovery programs. And they have subsidies available for participants.
Easter Seals Summer Day Camp & Events
And just up the road from Rainbow Riders is the Easter Seals Facility. I strongly encourage you to schedule an introduction meeting and sign up for their monthly newsletter because they offer a lot of different program options and special events throughout the year. I mentioned swimming lessons but my son also participated in Easter Seals Summer Day Camps and we had a wonderful experience. This is a low ratio inclusive summer camp and with different themed weeks. The Easter Seals facility also has a large accessible playground that is open to the public year round. And, if you are looking for a family friendly Halloween activity, I highly recommend their trunk-or-treat event.
Sensory Hair Cut
The last activity that I’m going to talk about isn’t always the most fun, but it’s super helpful to know if you are moving to a new city, and that is where to get your haircut. The Hair Factory in Churchill Square offers sensory haircuts. I’ve heard so many great reviews about this service for both boys and girls. We also had positive experiences with Roosters Men’s Grooming Centre located in Galway for boys haircuts. It’s not a sensory haircut but the staff are very accommodating and it’s a small location so it’s not overwhelming.
Do you have recommendations for activities for children with special needs?
This is by no means a full list of every inclusive activity offered in St. John’s. There are definitely more associations and resources available beyond what I mention in this blog. If you have a child with special needs and have activity recommendations LET ME KNOW. I would love to make a full resource guide with as many activities and services as possible.
Are you moving to st. john's and need help buying a house?
We should talk! Everybody’s situation is a little bit different. We can take a closer look at your specific needs and find a home that is right for you and your family.
TEXT ME at 709-770-5565 or CLICK HERE to schedule a meeting.