Texas Cheer Allstars, formerly Texas Cutez, has a place for EVERYONE! I had the privilege of spending cheer practice with their amazing special needs team. The team has a total of ten athletes with boys and girls of all ages and abilities. The team does both cheer and dance. I watched their fun routine to “Single Ladies”. It was a wonderful experience watching them perform the part of the routine they had already learned, and then to watch how quickly they picked up the new steps. The coaches’ goal is to get the special needs athletes to perform the routine with full independence, and from my observations, they aren’t far from it. These athletes are being challenged to show their full potential and having a blast while doing so. They have to be on spot and ready for competition.
This team practices once a week and a lot of the athletes participate in private lessons.
Angela Harvard Patton, owner and head coach of Texas Cheer Allstars, holds a Ph.D in Special Education Leadership and started the cheer program in 2006. She has experience in teaching individuals with special needs in both the school setting and cheer setting. On a personal note, in 2009 I was hired in the middle of the school year for my first teaching job. I was completely lost and needed someone to help me get started. Angela became my mentor and really helped me get through that difficult first year of teaching. Through our work together, I was able to see how passionate her heart is for the special needs population.
The environment at the gym felt very inclusive and family friendly. My experience there was wonderful!
Throughout my years as a special education teacher I have had several high school students that were unable to tie their own shoes or really anything that required tying.
Even though there are alternates to shoe strings and cool looking slip on shoes for adults I still feel that my students should work on the fine motor skills that are required for tying shoes.
I found this idea on Pinterest (I find a lot of ideas on there), and would like to share it with parents, caregivers, and other teachers who work with anyone that may benefit from this.
Shoebox with lid (or you can just use the bottom of a shoe box)
1 shoe string
Cut out a rectangle in the shoebox lid. Punch holes on the outside of the rectangle where you will be lacing the shoe string (I punched 4 holes on each side). Lace in your strings and practice practice practice using whatever method you like best.
I pull up a video on youtube for my students to watch and then we practice together. I would recommend buying the “stiffer” shoestrings because they hold the loop better making it easier for tying.
Storing scissors in the kitchen drawer was fine until my daughter was tall enough to get her sweet little fingers on them. I used Command Hooks to hang them onto the wall behind the kitchen counter. No more little fingers on the scissors….for now. I can also see them hanging, or not hanging if they’ve been used and not hung back up. I usually go into a panic search if they’re not there.
I also turn our knives sideways to keep little fingers off. Just a precaution because you never know when little ones are going to have an idea that requires something sharp.
I enjoy a little sensory stimulation every now and again but I feel a little to old to walk around with a fidget spinner. Not to mention all this talk about poisonous amounts of lead being found in some fidget spinners. I was gifted a mini tin can of thinking putty and keep it on my desk at work. This stuff really helps me think!
Silly Putty, Thinking Putty, or even Homemade Putty is a great sensory tool for adults, youths, and special needs individuals that need something to pick and poke at or even need help with focusing.
I did spend a good fifteen minutes in the shower trying to scrape Flarp Noise Putty out of my daughters hair once. With that being said, make sure to supervise your young children.
Who doesn’t love a big bucket of that buttery movie theater popcorn? Some movie theaters around the country invite special needs individuals and their families to enjoy Sensory Friendly Films. With the lights up and the volume lowered your child is able to sing, dance, and move around while the film is playing. Studio Movie Grill offers two showings a month with free tickets to special needs children and their siblings. AMC Theaters offers films on the second and fourth Saturday and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Find a movie theater near you, order some popcorn, and enjoy the show!