Choose a Group
Another part of the extracurricular decision involves the kind of group your child will choose. You and your child may have a strong preference based on where his friends are or because of specific communication needs. Or you may prefer that he has the opportunity to branch out to have new experiences and meet new people.
Schools typically offer a number of clubs and organizations. These offerings increase as your child goes into middle school and high school. The faculty advisors of school clubs will have some experience with students with special needs from their teaching. The special educators in the school can also provide information about how to meet the needs of your child for extracurricular activities.
Another advantage of a school group is that meetings are often right after school. Transportation to the activity is not a problem, but transportation home may have to be specially scheduled. If your child normally rides the bus home, he will need alternate transportation after a club meeting.
Another advantage to a school group is the opportunity to socialize with peers from a number of classes. Friendships often form as a result of club involvement. There is also an increased sense of school pride.
Let the school bus company, as well as the school, know when your child will not be riding the bus home. Remind your child who will be picking him up after the activity is finished. Having him write a note to himself in his assignment notebook is a good way to eliminate confusion.
Some activities are not offered through schools. If your child is interested in learning how to train the family dog, for example, he will need to look for a community group that focuses on animal care.
Involvement in a community group broadens your child's social contacts and builds self-esteem. Some community groups offer programs for people of all ages. If your child becomes involved with a community group, it may be an activity that he can continue as an adult.
Groups with Special Needs
If your child has more complicated special needs, you may decide to choose a group especially for children with disabilities. For example, if a child in a wheelchair wants to bowl, he may sign up for a bowling league that will use ramps and have volunteers to assist the bowlers. A child who is blind might enjoy outings with a group from a vision program. It would be much more fun to go to the zoo with this group and pet the animals in the children's zoo, than to “see” the animals from afar in the main part of the zoo.