Playdates for Children with Special Needs

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
09/02/16  8:57 AM PST
Playdates for Children with Special Needs

Children with special needs have difficulties making meaningful relationships with other children. Playdates for children with special needs help kids and their families connect with others in an environment that promotes inclusion.

Story contributed by Tiffany L, founder of Special Needs Playdate, based in San Diego, CA.

In 2010 our family of 3 was soon to become a family of 4! We were so excited and overwhelmed with joy to welcome our newest addition, Dylan to the family. We were a very adventurous family that thrived outdoors. Camping, hiking, Nascar racing, desert, river; you name it our family was there having fun.

Our life was completely flipped upside down when Dylan was born. We were on a new adventure with new lessons to be learned. Dylan was born blue and floppy and needed resuscitation due to a hemolytic anemia. By the tender age of 3 months, he had already had 3 blood transfusions.

We started the road of countless therapy hours when Dylan was 7 months old. He was very hypotonic until the age of 2. He was unable to hold his head up, bear weight, crawl or walk. With the help of 9 therapy sessions per week and weekly visits to specialists and doctors, Dylan beat the odds at age 2 and began to take his first steps. Our family was beyond excited! We had been told that he might never be able to walk.

We learned to focus on what Dylan was achieving rather than the developmental milestones he wasn’t meeting. By age 3 Dylan had been diagnosed with a moderate intellectual disability, autism, sensory processing disorder, right eye impairment, short stature and failure to thrive. This is when our family really began to understand the road we were about to embark on.

Taking Dylan out in public for everyday errands was not and still is not an easy task. In addition to dealing with his complex medical needs, he was getting unwanted attention in public. I started noticing the stares, gestures and unwelcome comments from other families when we were out and about.

I could not believe how isolating being a special needs parent felt.

It felt like no one else had ever seen or been around a person with different needs. I knew this needed to change and thought about ways I could help. This is where Special Needs Playdate came into play.

Playdates for Children with Special Needs

Programs like Special Needs Playdate focus on socialization and inclusion. Playdates for children with special needs encourage parents and typical siblings to connect with other families while kids of all abilities enjoy play and socialization. The ideal environment is stress-free and non-judgmental. Families share helpful tips and resources, and help each other through rough times. No family should ever feel alone. We are all in this journey together and together we can achieve success.

Playdates for Children with Special Needs

Story contributed by Tiffany L, founder of Special Needs Playdate, based in San Diego, CA.


More resources on this topic:

Special Playdate National online matching service for parents of children with special needs

Playdate Ideas

How to Plan a Special Needs Playdate

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