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Extracurricular Activities for Special Needs Teenagers

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    Extracurricular Activities for Special Needs Teenagers

    I was hoping that some of you might share some activities your special needs teens are involved in. My daughter is in her early teens and has mild autism, moderate dyslexia and is very, very shy. I would like to get her involved in some activity, club or volunteer work to help her overcome her shyness and learn to navigate social interactions with people she never met before. What activities have your special needs teens been involved in?

    Thanks, Laura

    #2
    Re: Extracurricular Activities for Special Needs Teenagers

    Hi, Laura. My two participated in activities of interest: my son, a local history class, and my daughter, a local singing group. If she enjoys something passionately, that might compensate for the shyness.

    I heartily recommend volunteering, if you can find the right adult. Both of mine volunteered 2-3 years (my son in a local history museum, my daughter in a small local nursing home) under hand-picked adults. In both cases, after the 2-3 years as teens, each was given very part-time employment in those settings.

    Let us know what she finds to enjoy!
    Last edited by cherylswope; 12-19-2017, 11:20 AM.

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      #3
      Re: Extracurricular Activities for Special Needs Teenagers

      Originally posted by once again View Post
      I was hoping that some of you might share some activities your special needs teens are involved in. My daughter is in her early teens and has mild autism, moderate dyslexia and is very, very shy. I would like to get her involved in some activity, club or volunteer work to help her overcome her shyness and learn to navigate social interactions with people she never met before. What activities have your special needs teens been involved in?

      Thanks, Laura
      Taekwondo!

      I cannot say enough good things about our experience with our local Taekwondo school. It is Korean-owned and run; staffed with excellent instructors who are all nth-degree Master Black Belts and above; it stresses discipline, teamwork, perseverance, respect, self-control, leadership, humility, cooperation, peer mentoring, obedience, strength, flexibility, friendship, family honor, and patriotism, et al. They have seasonal, summer and holiday parties; seasonal camps (my kids are at camp all this week, actually); they give to charity, train student teacher mentors; have a demo team that tours schools and does competition; and they have before and after school care — with included Korean lessons, gardening, and complementary drop off and pick up in our local schools. (I’m praying that they start their own Korean school!)

      My oldest began, as all students do, as a white belt. He did not speak until after his fifth birthday and has significant language processing and cognitive struggles. The first class was dicey (which is a bland way of saying, “mortifying”). I seriously thought we were in over our heads and we’d made a horrible mistake. He didn’t pay attention. He didn’t obey. He was all over the place. He interrupted. It was tense. He also had to learn all the kicks, punches, forms, Korean terms and sparring moves. (Not until later on, though — white belt is pretty basic.) I was, again, overwhelmed.

      Flash forward three years:
      He is now a red stripe belt (three belts from a black belt); knows all his forms almost flawlessly (he received a “best form” badge at a recent belt advancement test); speaks very good Korean; loves class; has made friends; cooperates very well; is calmer due to frequent, consistent exercise; is more mature and has a greater perspective on perseverance and hard work. Has it “cured” him? No. We still have challenges. But it has definitely tapped in to and raised his innate potential.

      I highly recommend a good martial arts school like ours. Check their credentials and make sure they are an Olympic school and ask up front about fees and schedules. But other than that, I strongly advocate a good martial arts program.
      Boy Wonder: 12, Seton and MP Electives (Special Needs)
      Joy Bubble: 10, Seton and MP Electives (Special Needs)
      Snuggly Cowboy: 8, Seton and MP Electives
      The Comedian: 4, Seton/MP Pre-K, though she’ll probably zoom through that in a week.

      “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”
      ~Pope St John Paul II

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Extracurricular Activities for Special Needs Teenagers

        Hi Laura,

        My son is 14 years old and has Asperger's and OCD. He loves gardening, and 2 years ago he taught a gardening class to his younger siblings and their homeschool friends at our church. They planted a small garden together, which then expanded into a parish-wide garden that provides food for a food pantry and is still growing. This has been really wonderful for him and many other people as well! It allows him to interact with people of all different ages and regularly present his ideas in front of our pastor and other parish leaders. Our son is not really shy, but he does have anxiety, so these have been great opportunities for him to work on interacting in a calm, unexcitable way with adults.

        He also raises tree saplings and sells them from the front yard with his younger siblings' lemonade stand. :-) That has led to several neighbors hiring him to do yard work for them.

        By about age 12-13, he seemed interested and ready to start interacting in larger social groups. Before that, it was just too overstimulating, and we stuck to playdates with family friends. We tried Scouts in elementary school, but he was happier camping alone with the family so we dropped it. But by middle school, he started playing on a soccer team and joined a boys' youth group. Both of those are headed up by very close friends of ours who know him and his issues. He has been to a couple of summer day camps and one sleep-away camp with Dad. Next year he's going to start volunteering at some camps his younger brothers attend.

        Have you considered American Heritage Girls? My daughter (without special needs) is involved with AHG, and I've noticed the organization seems very eager to accommodate girls with special needs. Many troops have a lot of homeschoolers, and the groups tend to be smaller in the upper age range. They usually offer a lot of service opportunities, and if camping isn't too intimidating for her, that can also be a fun way to spend time with other girls and families.

        I hope you find something she enjoys!
        Catherine

        2020-21
        DS17
        DS15
        DS13
        DD13
        DS8
        DD5
        DS 2.5

        Homeschooling 4 with MP
        2 in classical school

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