Special Needs

Play Time for Long Island Children with Special Needs

Play time is crucial to childhood development—it teaches children basic sensory functions, as well as how to interact and get along with the people around them. Playtime with a child with special needs can be tricky because most organized play spaces aren’t adaptive to the needs of some children. Luckily, Long Island has all kinds of play areas geared toward all children.

And for more kid-friendly activities, be sure to check out our Long Island Events Calendar.

Our New Camp Guide and Business Listings with Improved Search & Features

Last fall, we asked our readers to take a short survey and share their thoughts about how to improve our Summer Camp Guide. Overwhelmingly, we heard that you wanted a combination of our editorial recommendations, plus the ability to search listings and find recommendations from other parents.

So we're happy to debut our newly updated Camp Guide and our Camp Directory, now featuring an improved search, parent reviews and star ratings, and other enhancements. Even better: Our overhauled Directory isn't just for camps. We have listings for party places and services, and enriching classes, too.

Read on to find out more or head straight to our Day Camp Guide and Directory to browse the listings and leave reviews for your favorite programs.

What Is a Charter School and How To Find One in Los Angeles

In last week's Mommy Poppins LA schools feature, we provided an overview of school choice and promised more information on each of the available choices. This week, due to rapidly approaching application deadlines, we are focusing on independent charter schools, attempting to separate myth from reality and address commonly asked questions, including: What is a charter school? Why are so many families choosing charter schools? What sets charter schools apart from traditional public schools? Why is there controversy around charter schools? And how do we build alliances between traditional neighborhood schools and charter schools?

Special Needs-Friendly Ski Resorts Near NYC: Adaptive Winter Sports Programs for Kids of Different Abilities

Winter is a wonderful season for outdoor fun—just ask my three young snow-loving kids. In fact, there are so many fantastic skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing resorts near New York City, it's difficult to choose.

But since I'm also a mom to a teenager with special needs who isn't into winter sports, that makes our decision all the more challenging. He is both physically and cognitively disabled, and the thought of struggling onto lifts, into gear, up hills and through crowds doesn't appeal to him—not to mention the possibility of wiping out. So my family needs a resort that's able to accommodate children of all ages as well as abilities.

Happily, there are some amazing adaptive winter sports programs at resorts within a few hours of NYC, and some are low cost or even FREE. Here are five ski programs for special needs families.

Boston's Top 5 Accessible Live Performance Venues for Families with Special Needs

Mommy Poppins Boston is delighted to share this guest post from Amber Bobnar of WonderBaby.org, a support and information site for parents of children who are visually impaired (featured in our list of favorite blogs in 2013):

We take our family out to concerts in the Boston area almost every weekend, and my eight-year-old son, Ivan, is in a wheelchair and totally blind. Accessibility is very important to us!

Below you’ll find my rundown of our favorite accessible theaters and live performance venues in the Boston area. I share pros and cons based on a multitude of special needs because I realize that the criteria for what’s accessible will be different for each family. Some kids are in wheelchairs, some have sensory issues, some have hearing or visual impairment and all will react differently in different environments! Find one that looks like a good match for your family and give it a shot! Remember, if it doesn’t work out you can always leave. No big deal. 

The Child's Place: Free Special Needs Programs at Brooklyn Public Library Branches

Ever since we moved to southern Brooklyn from the Upper West Side, I've been on the hunt to replace all of the amazing special needs activities we had access to in Manhattan with only limited success. That's why I was really excited to stumble across the FREE Child's Place program. Sponsored by the Brooklyn Public Library at five borough branches, The Child's Place is a lot more than just books. The activities, geared toward children with special needs ages newborn to teen, include reading, playing and clubs where participants engage in a variety of enriching hands-on activities. Plus the offerings are inclusive, which means you can bring siblings of all abilities. So no more schlepping to Manhattan when looking for FREE fun for my special needs tween.

Poppins Parents: Amber Bobnar, Wonder Mom

In our Poppins Parents series, we’ve featured the founder of a local nonprofit organization, a Boston Marathon runner who raises money for homeless children, a passionate advocate for getting kids outdoors, a musician who helps kids sing their way through cancer, and a yogi whose parenting blog provides reassurance that we're all in this together. It’s a diverse group of people with something in common: They are all local parents who make a difference in the lives of Boston families.

Our newest Poppins Parent hasn’t lived in the Boston area for long, but she’s already made quite an impact. She is a writer, an avid proponent for Boston’s many talented children’s musicians, and the creator of WonderBaby.org, an invaluable resource for parents of children with special needs.

Meet Amber Bobnar; find out what drew her from Hawai‘i to Boston, discover what's on her list of Boston's best venues for children's music, and learn which local resources she has found most helpful for raising a child with special needs.

Special Needs Art Classes for NYC Kids

During my previous monthly special needs posts, I've rounded up music classes and dance lessons for New York City children with special needs. Today, I'm highlighting adaptive art programs for children with different abilities, like my tween son.

Although my boy has participated in all kinds of special needs sports, and social groups, art has never been very high on his wish list. With his limited fine-motor skills, short attention span and tendency to get easily frustrated, it's understandable that it's not a favorite. But I really wanted to find a creative outlet for him that he would enjoy.

So I started to investigate the kinds of special needs art programs available around the city, and as usual I wasn't disappointed—but I was surprised. While there are only a handful of studios offering adaptive experiences, some of NYC's major museums have incredible special needs hands-on sessions, most of which are FREE. Here are five special needs art programs for families, as well as two others that sound interesting but are open only to schools.

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