Therapy is Play and Play is Therapy

Many special needs individuals undergo a lot of therapy, whether is be shuffling to and from doctors offices, camps, clinics, behavioral physicians, medical specialist, Speech therapist, orthopedic doctors, or even the pharmacists for medication. Parents (and family members) are so busy trying to keep track of the more traditional kinds of therapy, that they often forget the simple kinds.

Did you ever have a hobby or sport that just ‘took you away from it all’? Well, They need an outlet, too. Everyone needs something to get them active, mentally or physically to distract them from the daily hustle of life. Life with special needs kids can be tough, so it’s important to do some research and get some input on activities they can participate in.


Philip did karate for a few years, and he loved it! He went from a pudgy boy to a strong string-bean in only 3 years. He made friends (some of them he still talks to and has “play-dates” with) and they taught him so much about self discipline and working toward your goal. He also participates in Lagrange Challenger Bowling Club which he’s made many friends in. They fill up really quick, so that shows how popular they are. They have two season of bowling: winter and summer. They also have TONS of other “challenger” activities such as baseball, basketball, soccer and many more! You’d be pretty surprised about how many programs there are for special needs individuals.

img_1753Therapeutic Horseback riding is also a very common and wonderful activity to get a special needs child involved in. Animals have a way of helping people heal, and horses especially have this quality. Petting an animal is known to decrease anxiety and risk of depression. It also lowers blood pressure, and come on, they’re so soft and cute who wouldn’t want to pet animals!

Here’s My friends link about animals that you may find useful and some other websites I found about Riding therapy, Karate for special needs, and other programs for special needs individuals.

Green Chimney’s is a wonderful place that helps children with their animals!

Disabled Sports USA has TONS of athletic opportunities for your child!

It’s not only special needs parents getting sympathy stares


Time to get Dressed for Breakfast!

I may not be Phil’s parent, but I am also not blind. I see my mom and dad struggle and see their day-to-day exhaustion. Simple things, things most people (and parents) wouldn’t think twice about are a constant fight for a special needs parent.

For instance: Changing their clothes (undergarments more specifically) on a daily basis. I understand that practically all children have a favorite shirt or pair of socks or whatever, but with a special needs child it’s a whole other situation. Sometimes there’s screaming, other times there’s crying, but mostly there’s just resistance. Phil, and probably many others, like what they like. They have super sensitive sensory systems (wahoo say that 5 times fast!) so many of their clothes and things are a big deal. Just recently he decided on his own accord, to throw out all of his old worn and literally torn undergarments, and it was a call for a party in our household! Later that week, he had to wear khaki pants for his work program at school . . . and he LOVED them! After some discussion, he realized he wanted to wear them daily.

October was a good month for us.


They have the same issues with food. A lot of the time, it doesn’t have to do with what the food tastes like, but what it feels like: in their mouth, in their hands, sometimes how it smells and looks. Many times, going out to dinner is a challenge. Philip isn’t as sever as some other developmentally disabled peoples, so he does not have a wheelchair, or feeding tubes, and he can walk and communicate (although it takes a while to understand if you’re not used to it). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other challenges. Sometimes he will say inappropriate things to the waitress (whether it be obscene flirting, or calling her a bad name), or he will order his meal–which is ALWAYS chicken tenders, french fries and a Coke– and he won’t touch it. Sometimes he gets mad for seemingly no reason at all. These issues,                                                                                  along with others, make every experience a true                                                                                                                                                                  experience.

As I’m sure most of you know, your diet effects every part of you. That’s why feeding a special needs person is one of the biggest struggles with daily living. Of course we want them to get all the nutrients they need to be as healthy as possible, but sometimes you just take what you can get. Phil’s only vegetable is raw carrots and that is a blessing! However, some kids are more tolerant with their diets than others. I have a friend with some Autistic buddies, and she was telling me that a gluten free diet can help people on the spectrum.

If you want to learn more about how to make healthier, farm fresh meals for your special needs child (or if you want them for yourself) then check out her blog!

DIY food Recipes!

Some other alternative diets for special needs!

Here is a website I found with TONS of information on clothing for special needs and how to adapt them to fit the kids as they age!


Siblings of Special Needs Individuals

Naturally, this territory comes with lots of ups and downs. There are good days, bad days, struggles and triumphs. Everything is a little bit harder when you have a special needs sibling, but that also makes things much more rewarding.

There are the obvious struggles that come with being a sibling of special needs kids, like being a different kind of family, helping the sibling learn and grow, and not being totally overshadowed by them. It depends on the person too, and the family dynamic. For me, it was always a bit easier with Philip. I’m older, and I understand what it’s like to be different (I was bullied as a child).

My younger sister however, had trouble adjusting at first. She and Phil are 22 months apart, and since she was an infant she LOVED being in the spotlight. Once Phil came along, she was no longer the baby and didn’t get the same amount of attention. She was embarrassed of him, sad, confused by the situation, and as disturbing as that may sound, those emotions are very common among siblings of special needs individuals. And however saddening that may seem, she has become a strong, supportive sister since then. She’s developed qualities that very few people spend a life time trying to understand and master-She’s disciplined, a leader and team player; she able to teach people in a way that helps the learner understand and care. through Philip she’s become stronger, compassionate and patient (that last one is still a struggle for her sometimes). But it’s all about the growth. Philip has helped everyone he knows to develop a quality(s) that they may not otherwise have been able to acquire. He helps us, as we help him.

I did some research to see what else was out there, and came up with lots of links! There are tons of people around the world going through the same kinds of struggles with siblings of special needs individuals. I thought of my sister and how she has changed, and noticed a lot of the same issues/struggles and triumphs throughout the stories. Some of these are other blogs, and others are websites.

Check them out! (And as always, feel free to comment and share this!!)

Psychology Today

Common struggles of siblings of special needs kids

Books about siblings of special needs kids

This next one is a bit painful to read, but it’s important and honest . . .

Siblings and Special needs: Acceptance



Me (left) Alyssa (right) and Phil (bottom) at Playland during the fall! Fun fact: this is an original 1920’s Playland dragon coaster cart.





A Roller Coaster With Philip

Another fact about Phil-he loves roller coasters. He’s watched YouTube videos of people screaming and laughing and crying for years now. He laughs so hard that tears stream down his face when he watches the silly things! People would come over and hear screaming in my Dad’s office. They would look at me, their brows drawing up in concern until i realized why and told them it’s just Phil on the computer. They always had to see why he was screaming.


The kicker is, he was terrified of roller coasters for the longest time! Obsessed as he was, he would not go on them. He would beg us and cry to go on. When we all packed in my Mom’s minivan and finally went, he was always too chicken to go. It’s fair though.

I’ve always thought that he’s kind of battling with rational thought when he’s scared of this stuff. You see a person on a ride and they’re laughing and having fun. But then you really look at the thing their on, and ya gotta wonder: what the hell is keeping them on? To get on a long, thin cart that practically flies on train tracks a hundred feet in the sky, I mean, a person has to be delusional to get on, right? Without the knowledge of physics and all that, roller coasters are down right deadly. And Phil doesn’t understand physics (hell, I don’t either, I just pretend to know what I’m taking about), so this huge thing is just terrifying!

dragon_coaster_832868So, about 2 years ago, he finally gets on a roller coaster. The one at Playland, in Rye. He about peed his pants, and I think he cried a little when the ride had stopped. But he had fun. He screamed so loud and high pitched that I could have sworn I was seated beside a pterodactyl dinosaur. that was the beginning of quite the love affair. Now, we make a point to go to his first roller coaster each year.


10 Essential Facts With Philip

phil-pic-1There are some must know facts about Philip that everyone simply has to know upon meeting him.

  1. Philip is super friendly. He will greet you with a smile and laugh at your jokes (even if he does’t totally get them).
  2. He will likely flirt with you and tell you you’re beautiful or handsome. (Don’t be embarrassed by this)
  3. If you take something out and leave it out, you will spend the next several days looking for it. His cleanliness can get overbearing at times.
  4. Halloween is the God send of holidays in our household. We prepare for it a month in advance and probably have more motion censored Halloween trinkets than any person on our block.
  5. I am 5 years older than Philip and our younger sister is away at collage. When he misses her, he can get pretty cranky.
  6. Pranks are a constant in our household. Our mother is always picking up little “pranks” from the dollar store.
  7. Phil loves to workout! He goes to the gym frequently after school with our Dad. (That’s their “male bonding” time)
  8. Philip does the work program through school, and he works at Planet fitness and a senior center.
  9. He loves to bowl. He bowls on a league through Lagrange Challenger Bowling and has been doing it for a few years now.
  10. No matter the difficulties Philip (and us) face, he’s still just a 17 year old boy and everything that accompanies that.

It’s a wild ride with my little brother and everyday serves a different challenge, but everyday we get a different reward.