For Special-Needs Families Stuck at Home


Hi everyone! It’s Antonio, the Inclusion Program Manager at the 14th Street Y. Essentially, my job is to ensure that any person with developmental disabilities who comes through our doors is able to participate in our programs. The main goal of my job is to help these people feel like the 14Y is place they can call home.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis our state is facing, our doors closed to ensure the safety of everyone and to do our part to address that issue. I understand and recognize the challenges of losing our physical community in trying times, but I am here to tell you that when one door closes, we will find another door to open. The doors to the Virtual 14Y are open, and we will be continuously providing you with resources to assist and support families from home! Some of these resources include activities for families to do together, recommendations to help manage any stress or overwhelming feelings, and connections with real people who want to hear your stories and make time to chat with you!

Some helpful ways to support our children amidst this crisis can look like the following:

  1. Establishing a new routine! Routine and consistency are key to feeling safe and in control of your time, especially when there are a lot of things that are out of our control. This can be anything from waking up at a consistent time, having meals and snack in a timely manner, family bonding time, chores, or anything that will engage your children.
  2. Vitamin D is important! If at all able, going for a short walk with your child will allow them to get their daily dose of Vitamin D, and some fresh air. If for some reason you cannot/will not go outside, window gazing and playing I Spy with people, shapes, colors, or interesting objects you can see can be just as beneficial!
  3. Stretch and wiggle! Staying indoors and not moving around too much can take a toll on our bodies (and minds). Stretching and doing “mini workouts” will stimulate our muscles and minds when we can’t run around outside. This can be everything from making arm circles, waving our fingers, jogging in place, pushing against a wall or door, and stretching.
  4. Make time to bond! Working from home and caring for children can be very tough and take a toll on our mental health. Try to find and make time for family bonding so that you and your family can support each other and BE with each other. You could do any of the above, or you can play board games, make up stories, read books, listen to music, cook together, or do some sort of activity where everyone can feel heard or engage in.

There are a lot of cool resources out there for families! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! These are great videos that you and your child can follow along to. Try drawing some of your own doodles too!
  • Have an aspiring astronaut in the house? Know of a curious mind who is into space? NASA has made over 17,000 of their pictures available to the public! You can do your own DIY photography with the kids, or just look at some cool photos of space.
  • Take virtual tours of various museums, theme parks, and art galleries through the internet! My favorite one is virtually walking around some of Disney’s theme parks! I have been recounting memories with family and looking toward the future and planning to make some new ones!

Check out the 14Y Community Corner where we’ll be posting videos on family engagement activities, helpful tips and more!