Summer holiday activities for kids with disability

Tags Autism Accessibility

Posted 7 months ago by Emily Erickson

The number of accessible beaches across Australia increases every year. [Source: iStock]
The number of accessible beaches across Australia increases every year. [Source: iStock]

With summer school holidays comes new routines and less structure for children with disability. Whether you're looking to spend more time outdoors, try a new skill or escape the heat, we've put together a list of inclusive school holiday activities to try this summer.

Accessible beaches 

Heading to the beach on a warm summer’s day has been a big part of the Australian lifestyle for generations. For people with a disability, going to the beach and getting involved in beach culture isn’t always an option. 

Luckily, the number of accessible beaches across Australia increases every year.  They provide for easier access though the use of special features such as ramps, wheelchair beach mats and accessible change rooms or showers. For a complete directory of accessible beaches in Australia, check out Accessible Beaches to find one near you. 

Parks and trails

Australia is home to some of the most beautiful national parks in the world, and many of them are wheelchair accessible. 

Along with wheelchair accessible trails, some Australian National Parks offer TrailRiders free for hire. TrailRiders are a piece of equipment which allows a person with mobility restrictions to access tracks that are not wheelchair accessible, including walks with stairs.  

Check out some of the top accessible parks in Australia here, or check out these resources for:

Accessible playgrounds 

Heading to the playground is a great way to enjoy the outdoors as a family and get kids out of the house.

Today, there is a growing list of accessible and inclusive playgrounds around Australia. From sensory experiences to accessible water features, these playgrounds can cater to children with a range of disabilities.

Here is a selection of accessible playgrounds across Australia. Some playgrounds may even have a wheelchair swing, also known as a Liberty swing. You can find one near you here.

Indoor sensory play centres are also a fun option if it’s too hot outside. With built-in tactile elements that engage the senses, sensory play centres encourage kids to explore various rough and smooth textures and shapes. Some examples include Toddler Sensein Western Australia or  WOW Sensory Centrein South Australia.

Picnic

A picnic lunch at the playground or your favourite park is a low-cost summer holiday activity. Choose an area that has the best seating options to suit your needs, avoid complex or messy foods, and consider using a picnic basket or cooler on wheels. 

Pool and swimming programs 

Check your local swimming pool’s holiday opening hours and plan a refreshing day by the pool. Visit their website to see if they have inclusive swimming programs for children with disability. 

For example in Brisbane, Hampton Swim School offers a specialised swimming program with children with ASD, and the YMCA South Australia offers an NDIS-funded LEAP Aquatics program for participants who have a phobia of water, sensory/behavioral needs, or physical disabilities.

You could also try hydrotherapy sessions and swimming lessons aimed at children with autism. For example, Cerebral Palsy Australia recommends these options in NSW.

Local Government activities

Many local governments run school holiday programs that include a range of activities that are suitable for children with disability such as arts and crafts, outdoor events or cooking classes. 

Visit your local government’s website to browse their activity options. For example, the City of Melbourne are holding Summertime sensory play sessions.

Museums and art galleries

Visiting a museum or art gallery isn’t your stereotypical summer holiday activity but many museums run a wide range of children’s activities.

For example, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery run school holiday programs that include art activities and workshops. The Art Gallery of South Australia is also offering their Hand in Hand family art, music and tour sessions in Auslan. 

Some major museums also have dedicated sensory days, quiet spaces and online resources for children with autism, like Queensland Museum and Melbourne Museum.

Movies

When it’s too hot outside or you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon indoors, the cinema is a popular choice over the summer break as many big movies are released leading up to the New Year. Most main movie chains have accessibility elements in place so everyone can enjoy a movie. 

For example,EVENT Cinemas has accessible movie sessions that include closed captions, hearing aid loops, infrared transmitters and audio-described movies, as well as wheelchair access. EVENT also offers sensory screening sessions to families who have children with disabilities. 

What are your favourite summer holiday activities? Let us know in the comments below!