When my family was working on transitioning Sara out of the school system and into adult services I focused on many of her obvious needs. Where should Sara live? Where should she work? What kind of higher education would be appropriate for a young adult with a disability? Sara had what we thought a complete transition plan. Now that is has been a few years since graduation I realize the part of her life that offers the most satisfaction is an area that did not receive any of my attention. The big oversight that should always be discussed and emphasized early in a teen’s education plan is what type of recreation is appropriate, how can we find good quality hobbies that really make  a person HAPPY? Having meaningful recreation is the real goal here and without friends and activities specifically designed to meet Sara’s needs our transition plan was insufficient and destined to lead to an empty life. If you are a parent with a student with special needs are they in clubs? Have you checked with the clubs they are attending now to see if there is an age limit? Sara was attending recreational programs while she was in high school. She loved her basketball, soccer, bowling and baseball teams. All three groups had an age limit and asked the older players to leave when they turned l7 or 21.  When Sara first left school we were very busy getting used to her day program, finding a job, and continuing to work on her independence skill. It didn’t take long for us to miss those great days spent carting Sara to one of her favorite sports. Why wasn’t this talked about during our team educational meetings? How much impact does recreation have on young adult’s satisfaction?

Then Sara found the Special Olympic team, Flames, here is a really talented group of young people coached by great volunteers working hard to improve their basketball skills, make friends, and have fun. Sara joined “The Flames” and we saw Sara’s old enthusiasm for sports return. She made friends, started exercising more, and eating and sleeping better. Her team plays a few travel games, an inclusion game, and the really big regional competition. Sara always invites friends and family to come see her at practice or her games.  Flames takes a hiatus from practice during the summer and Sara will go to the gym so she can “cross train” during the off season. I have friends who do the Special Olympic track program and the swimming programs. You might want to sign your child up, volunteer to help, or make a donation. Check out Special Olympics- Hudson Valley, NY on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/SONYHVt   for more information

Let the games begin!

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