Mr. Landon and I played CandyLand with my son, Blake. Blake and Landon both have special needs. Autism and Down Syndrome. Despite these diagnosis, these 2 boys are exercising with me using the game CandyLand. Every card space has a different exercise and rep scheme assigned to it. The boys worked through the board game completing each exercise before moving to the next.
For example, if they landed on red, they were assigned 10 rows with a band. When they landed on a green square, they would have to do 5 push ups. I drew a color chart with the assigned exercises for them to follow. Each boy had their own figurine to move up the board, but they both did all the exercises, every time, no matter who’s turn it was. The incentive was to “win” by getting to CandyLand first.
Red: 10 Banded Rows
Green: 10 Push Ups at Wall or on Incline Bench
Blue: 10 Jumping Jacks
Yellow: 10 Flutter Kicks
Orange: 10 Squats
Purple: 10 Bicep Curls with Band
Candy: FREE Pass, don’t do anything
This type of activity is fun and rewarding for clients with short attention spans, who typically do not like exercising, but have a general understanding of how games work. Adding in a partner, for motivation, and socialization is also helpful, in some instances.
For more ideas of providing exercises and making fitness fun for people with special needs, check out my article in ACE-Certified Magazine.