Summer can be a wonderful time for children and families. Nice weather means enjoying the outdoors and getting fresh air. Time off from school creates opportunities for learning new skills and spending more time together as a family. For parents of children with disabilities, summer can also be a challenging time. Less school, care or therapy hours may leave parents with extra time to fill that can be a bit daunting. Not all summer activities are appropriate or accommodating for children with social skill challenges, behavioral, physical and other special needs.

Orion ISO has created a list of helpful resources and activities for parents of children with disabilities and special needs to help make summer an enjoyable time for the whole family.

Camps can be wonderful way for kids to gain new friendships in a comfortable setting. There are many types of camps out there geared towards different abilities and needs. Most offer features like specialized medical care, outdoor activities that are accommodating to most, one-on-one “buddies” and customized programing.

The Federation for Children with Special Needs offers a camp directory with over 200 camps sorted by category. Friendship Circle provides a nice list of camps as does Very Special Camps.

Crafts and Activities To Do At Home
Sometimes the best place for a child to be on summer break is at home. Parents who stay at home with their children know how important it is to have some structure and routine to their day while also coming up with unique and fun things to do. Karen Wang, a Friendship Circle parent put together a list of 82 activities (one for each day of summer vacation) to do with her kids, one of whom has a developmental disability. has a fun top 10 list with a lot of sensory focused activities.

Accessible and Inclusive Playgrounds
More and more playgrounds throughout the U.S. are being built to include children and families of all abilities. This includes more than just wheelchair accessibility. Accessible and inclusive playgrounds are places where children with disabilities can play right alongside and with their peers. They are designed to foster learning, confidence and independence. Some features of accessible and inclusive playgrounds are therapeutic swings, solid surfaces, ramps leading to all equipment as well as features such as musical equipment, educational and sensory experiences and incorporate the 7 principles of inclusive play.

Most playgrounds parents visit will have accessible features as it is a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the “inclusive” part is newer and includes more innovative play features. Here is a list of the 30 Most Impressive Accessible and Inclusive Playgrounds in the U.S.

Orion ISO is based out of the Twin Cities, Minnesota and so we have included some local resources for summer activities for parents of children with disabilities.

Connect Washington County has an extensive list of fun things to do not only in Washington County, but throughout the Twin Cities, from parks, museums, festivals, outdoor, sports activities plus a lot more!

iCanBike Twin Cities from iCanShine is a unique camp that gives people with disabilities the thrill and experience of riding a conventional two wheeled bike. In addition to the bike camp iCanShine offers a variety of other recreational activities for people with disabilities.

Giggle. Play. Connect. is an organization devoted to promoting spontaneity of play and sense of belonging to children of all ages and abilities. They sponsor a number of free play events in Minnetonka. Check out their Facebook page to learn more.

Wabun Picnic Area in Minnehaha Regional Park is the first universally accessible playground in the Minneapolis park system. It features a play area which 90% of it is accessible to children with disabilities. The design includes quiet play areas, an accessible scavenger hunt, roller slide, large sand play area climbing elements, musical toys, and swings.

If you have ideas or places to add to this list please email us and we will be sure to include them on our website and social media outlets.

Skip to content