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5 Games Every Special Needs Family Needs  

Jul 08th, 2020 | by Geoffrey Chein, PT, DPT
Geoffrey Chein, PT, DPT

Geoffrey Chein, PT, DPT

July 08th, 2020

Stuck at home with telehealth? Kids just won’t do the exercises with you and look at you with the cutest little eyes? We at NAPA love to pick toys and games which are not only age-appropriate and educational, but also provide A TON OF repetitions. Oh, and don’t forget, they are also SUPER fun! 

Motivation is the key to success in any exercises, especially with those required repetition. 

These special needs games are “therapist-approved” because of the many advantages they offer to help your child in various developmental areas. While we are recommending these games for special needs families, they are great games for all children and families!

My Top 5 Games for Special Needs Families 

 

1. Pop Up Pirate 

This is an all-time classic! I love to role-play with the kiddo during the therapy session pretending we are pirates. For instance, we retrieve the swords at the starting line then walk over the mountains (or walk across a balance beam) to race our beloved pirate against the therapist or the caregiver to see who is the king pirate of the session. Kids can also work on their visual-motor skills, forearm supination, and finger strength when they draw the sword in the barrel. When the pirate pops, it’s a perfect form of feedback, providing the child with a sense of achievement for all the hard work they just did.   

 

2. Crocodile Dentist  

This special needs game is easy to set-up and requires effortless clean up after playing! Kids press down on a tooth, and watch out for the crocodile chomp if it’s sore. I like to put the crocodile on an elevated surface like a sofa or a coffee table for kids to work on their upright transition skills. Then I can also move the crocodile away saying “Oh! The crocodile is running, go get him!” to encourage kids to work on their cruising or transition in between surfaces. The crocodile’s chomp will bring the best laugh to your kids and make the exercises super fun!

3. Pop the Pig  

This game is another one I like to use often in therapy sessions with our older kids. The kids roll a dice and find the matching color burger with the number on the back, then pump the piggy correspondingly. This is great to help kids work on color naming, and recognizing numbers. It is also beneficial to their fine motor skills and shoulder stability since it takes a great deal to pump the piggy head.  To make the game more interactive, I like to put the the piggy and burgers on both ends of my session set-up so we can either walk across hurdles, climb up graded surfaces, or walk over stepping stones to help our very hungry piggy to stay full! 

4. Elefun  

This game is another super fun one, just make sure it has a full battery. You can let the kids help the set-up by using the pincer tool to put the fluttery butterfly in. Then turn on the switch and catch as many butterflies as you can!  Elefun is a perfect game for working on standing balance without holding onto anything. I  like to have kids transition from the floor to standing using either 4 point or half kneel, and then work on their standing balance while they are busy catching these beautiful butterflies. Once you’re done playing, you can also encourage the kids to squat down to pick the butterfly up.  

5. Twister 

I absolutely love this game for older kids, usually at least 5 or older. You can team up with siblings, grandparents, or anyone who will join in and just follow the direction of the card to put your hands or feet on the corresponding color. Twister offers a great way for kids to learn how to identify their bodies in space, while also improving core strength. The closed chain exercise gives the best input to our joints and strengthens the muscles that surround them. Teaming up with other people also facilitates social interaction and social connection, helping build positive peer acceptance. 

Big plus: It’s the perfect time for our kids to use their ultimate goofy energy!  

 

Bonus Game: FitDeck  

This one is not exactly a board game, but it’s a great game to involve the whole family in some core-blasting exercises. I love having 2 or 3 people together. We all take turns to draw a card and see who finishes the directions the fastest. FitDeck has tons of cool exercises for the whole body, including the flamingo stance, sit-ups, V-ups, and knee push ups. You can also have the kids read the directions and try mimicking the exercises as the picture shows. This is a great way to facilitate motor planning and motor execution. Also, there is no better way to motivate the kids to exercise than to involve everyone!

Happy game night, families!

 

About the Author  

Geoffrey Chein grew up in Taiwan and always enjoyed working with kids. When he found out about NAPA Center, he immediately fell in love with the big NAPA family and was glad to find a “one stop shop” for all contemporary therapies. Outside of the clinic, he enjoys spending time with his dog and his husband, exploring different restaurants and will even travel out-of-state for a nice medium rare steak!

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