Children with special needs can sometimes make bigger messes than their typical peers. You may be thinking how is that even possible for a child with limited hand and arm mobility. But oh let me tell you that it is!

You see if you stick a bowl of whip cream for sensory fun in front of them, a bucket of beans or a bin of rice to run their fingers through, they have the potential of often times knocking that container or bowl half way across the room. And the this colossal mess flashes before you eyes before you can even grab enough paper towel to handle the job. It’s not pretty, and cleanup and take hours – especially if it splatters on a 14-foot ceiling.

These types of messy events might detour you from wanting to put your child in a position where they have the potential of detouring your day with unanticipated cleaning. But we’re really doing a tremendous disservice therapeutically and even in many ways depriving them of family participation opportunities if we take away sensory seeking and fun opportunities for the sake of sparing ourselves from the mess that will inevitably follow.

So what’s a mom to do?

We plan. And special needs parents are excellent planners. To protect carpet and floors consider laying down some plastic painting sheets, in extreme cases, you can even tape it to the walls. Have those paper towels handy. And by handy I mean like within arms reach. Make sure you’re wearing your typical well-loved mommy outfit. You know the outfit we all have in our closet that is worn with grease stains from cooking for our family, color stains from dropping a marker on yourself while positioning your child’s hand, and super faded because you wash it way too much. That outfit. Put it on like your amour going into battle.

Put the pets outside. The last thing you need is furry interference and another member of the household to wash if things get wild. Ask siblings to be your second line of defense and ask them to help hold the bowl for their brother or sister who needs just a bit of extra stabilization of items to creatively enjoy, play and sensory seek.

Consider the use of goggles if need be… I’m kidding (I think?)!

No matter how you go about it, the important goal is not to shy away from offering these messy play opportunities to your child with special needs. I’ve been there. And there are days when I’ve thought twice like do I really want to the clean up that is going to follow?… But our children need it, they crave it. And when all else fails join them.

Have the whole family scare dad when he arrives home from work and sees everyone covered in finger paint from head to toe.

Some of the best times are the messiest.

And then tell Dad the joke is on him for clean up as you’ve done your duty!

Make it a complete family affair.

Happy Mess Making With love from the Firefly Garden…

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