Plan your own Special Needs Friendly Easter Egg Hunt
If you are organising an Easter Egg Hunt this year, be it a large community based event or for your own children in the back garden, here are some tips to make an egg hunt sensory friendly and inclusive so that everyone can join in the fun!
Use a schedule
Give your child a schedule of events for special activities like egg hunts and large gatherings. Whether it’s a written schedule or one with pictures for younger kids, your child will feel calmer and safer knowing what is coming next. Let your child cross off events once they are complete. And discuss the schedule regularly. Provide info for each event when possible including who will be there and how long each event should last. Let your child know which events will take place outside, which will be loud or crowded, and an approximate time you will leave. Often, just knowing what’s next can help children with behavioural and sensory issues feel less anxiety
Have an egg hunt trial run
If your child is new to the egg hunt tradition, consider having a trial run at home. Allow your child to look for empty eggs just for fun. If he or she has siblings, let them each have a turn separately. And then let them look for eggs together. For children with sensory integration problems and attention issues, knowing what to expect, and what’s expected of them, can significantly lower their anxiety in new or novel situation
Consider having the eggs out in the open to make them easy to find.
If you have several children in your home, select one colour for each child, so everyone will get the same amount of eggs. This approach will allow a timid or easy overwhelmed child to hunt for eggs at his or her own pace and eliminate competition for kids with impulse control or behavioural issues.
Think about other adaptations to make the event even more inclusive
For children in wheelchairs, hide mini eggs and trinkets in a plastic container full of rice.
For children with vision impairments, hide the eggs beside something that makes a beeping noise.
Plan for alternative treats if needed.
Many children with neuro-behavioural disorders have food sensitivities or allergies that prevent them from enjoying the treats that normally fill plastic eggs. Plan ahead so that you can offer alternatives like sugar-free sweets or a gluten-free treat. In addition to allergies, a child with neuro-behavioural disorders often experience negative reactions to artificial colours and sugar-laden foods. So consider non-food items like stamps, temporary tattoos, stickers, rings, and other small trinkets.
Allow your child to opt out. Choose a code word your child can use if he or she feels overwhelmed and needs a break. Assure your child if he or she uses the code word, you will respond right away. Giving children some control during activities that may be overstimulating for them will reduce anxiety, and help them stay calm and organized. Knowing he or she has a way “out” is important. While an egg hunt is fun for most children, some kids may prefer not to take part.
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