by Sarah Wilsey, MA – Clinical Program Manager, Spotlight and Autism Coaching

A common struggle of parents raising both children with developmental disabilities and neuro-typical children is the sense of guilt they feel from spending so much time focusing on the child with greater needs. While it is vitally important that the child with a developmental disability is receiving appropriate supports, it is also important to ensure that the other children are getting the attention they need. If this
balance is difficult to find in your family, you are not alone! 

It can be difficult to find activities that both of your children are interested in and able to enjoy. But there is a way to spend quality time together as a family, practice your child’s social skills, AND do something fun with the whole family!

Improvisation games provide an opportunity for children and adults of all abilities to practice important skills while having fun and making memories. Whereas many games have rules and expectations that can be challenging for children who have a difficult time being flexible, improvisation games provide an opportunity to be creative, practice flexibility, and still be fun.

Try playing “The Good, the Bad, and the Silly!” You’ll need three people, and one question – for example, “My dog just ran away. What should I do?” One person will provide GOOD advice, one person will provide BAD advice, and the other will come up with a silly suggestion. You’ll be guaranteed to laugh, but you’re also practicing…. judgment, appreciated language and humor, tone of voice, and reciprocal communication. It’s a great conversation starter, has tons of opportunities to come alongside your child and offer some side-coaching and encouragement, and can be played anywhere!

At Spotlight, we play games like this every week. Games range in complexity based on age group and ability, and provide an opportunity to practice social skills in a safe and fun environment (and what’s better – your kids just think they’re games!) Parenting is a joy-filled challenge. Try introducing some games into your routine that allow you to spend time with all of your children AND work on specific skills in a fun way.
Check out the Spotlight Program website  for a list of games and more creative ways to get the whole family involved (under the “News” tab)!