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thinking of starting a special needs playgroup - would you go to one? Good idea or not?

(30 Posts)
jammydodger Wed 17-Sep-08 22:26:02

Hi.
Just thought I'd see what MNers thought of my idea - I'm a SALT, also mum to ds1 who's ASD, and Ds2 (NT). I run baby signing courses at the moment as a business, but was thinking of starting a Saturday morning playgroup for children with special needs, up to around 5 or 6 years, and their families.
It would be totally not for profit, with a very small charge to cover room hire and coffee, and I was thinking it'd be a good chance for parents to relax, meet each other and get some support. I thought perhaps an hour or so of "free time" then 20 minutes of singing, with signs, puppets, some games, parachute, etc.

I was wondering if anyone else has been to a group like this, or run one, and how it went? Is it a good idea or not? Would you go to something like this if it was in your area?

Thanks in advance for your comments! smile

TotalChaos Wed 17-Sep-08 22:27:22

sounds like an excellent idea to me.

jammydodger Wed 17-Sep-08 22:31:13

Oh good! Wondering if anyone's been to something similar?

2shoes Wed 17-Sep-08 22:36:13

good idea, but pick a wheelchair accesible hall

jammydodger Wed 17-Sep-08 22:39:50

Oh that's a good point, hadn't thought of that blush

2shoes Wed 17-Sep-08 22:46:11

dd is 13 now and there wasn't any when she was little, so think it is a brilliant idea.
I know I would have loved to chat to other parents. the only thing she went to was an integrated play school and although i did get to chat, they didn't have a clue how to look after her.
good luck

mm22bys Thu 18-Sep-08 07:47:55

I think it's a great idea.

I have been to two, one is a "soft play" session, where the kids, generally only about 3 at the most play, do what they want, and the mums sit around and chat. I didn't enjoy it at first, but went yesterday and could see how much DS2 was enjoying it. They have two or three carers there, once DS2 and I were the only non-carers there!

The other one sounds similar to what you are proposing, it's run in conjunction with the local CDT. It goes for two hours, sounds like a long time, but DS2 got through it with no tears till the end.

The first half hour was just general play, then we had about 45 mins talking to the therapists (physio, OT, SALT), then we had songs, then tummy time (for the littler ones), fruit and water, then songs and massage to calm them down.

I have found that we don't actually talk about our children's issues very much, which is nice, it's nice to just see them play amongst a non-competitive environment!

Good luck and all the best,

sarah293 Thu 18-Sep-08 08:43:20

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vicsta Thu 18-Sep-08 09:09:03

Definitely. I attend a new parent group and DS is the only one with any problems. The group are lovely but I know they find it hard to discuss their normal motherhood worries with me just as I find it hard to tell them when we've had a shit week coz it makes them feel bad. And TBH after a shit week I do find it hard to be around their perfect little offspring (only sometimes - they are lovely!). It would be nice to go somewhere where other Mums have some understanding of what its like and where DS could play with some chums who are not all way ahead of him. Think there's a real gap in the market. Good luck.

TotalChaos Thu 18-Sep-08 09:37:43

btw in my city the only SN playgroup I could track down was for kids with DS. So a definite gap in the market.

FioFio Thu 18-Sep-08 09:39:43

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bubble78 Thu 18-Sep-08 09:43:16

would be an exceellent idea wish there was one in my area
good luck with it all x

Cappuccino Thu 18-Sep-08 09:52:01

I think it's a lovely idea

if you are going up to about 5 or 6 years tho you need to think about the range of children you want to cater for; I only say this because I once took dd1, aged 6, to a club that said it was for disabled children because I thought she was finding it hard being the only disabled child among NT children (she is physically disabled)

however at the club there were a lot of children with different disabilities to her who were quite rude about her walking frame

and I understand that it was because they had some learning difficulties but she found it very hard trying to explain to them in her halting speech when they really didn't understand and she came out feeling even more isolated than when she went in

I think whatever you do for SN children will always isolate some children because of the nature of our childrens' disabilities, but I think tht means you have to be very honest with parents who are coming about what kind of children you are mainly catering for

if the lady at the SN club had said "mainly we have children with learning difficulties" I wouldn't have got dd all excited and gone, tbh

very good luck though - I'm not trying to be negative, just giving you an experience. Hope it goes well - there are just loads of gaps out there

FioFio Thu 18-Sep-08 09:54:38

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magsi Thu 18-Sep-08 10:06:11

Sounds like a good idea. There is one just starting by us at our local sports centre.A couple of weeks ago, we went for a 'dry run' just so they could get an idea of things /activities to do. I think the key is not to have it too structured. Special needs kids' attention span is not that long, and as you know, they flit from one thing to another. Have a few different activities set up so they get a good choice. Our 'try out' day was good. they had table-tennis, an arts and crafts corner and basket balls to play with scattered around. Perhaps some soft play would be great too. This was in a sports hall, so we used a few of their facilities, i.e. table tennis tables. The only trouble was the ratio of staff to children. There were pleanty of excape routes! the signing songs idea sounds fab and would be better for the little ones.

Good luck to you.

ChopsTheDuck Thu 18-Sep-08 10:25:39

Is there a local paed unit you caould ask for advice? They should know if there are any existing facilities and what sort of playgroup would be beneficial to the community.

We were offered the chance with ds1 but didn't take it up. Our paed actually told us about it as a possibility but advised against it. The group near is used by quite a few parents of children with severe autism and the paed felt it would be a negative influence on ds. I know there is also a playgroup for children with CP. It may be that it is better to focus on one type of sn.

trace2 Thu 18-Sep-08 11:08:06

we have one run here by portage on a wed morning we want to go but thatday she goes to respite for 4 hours so i miss out

Tclanger Thu 18-Sep-08 11:19:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

trace2 Thu 18-Sep-08 11:22:35

forgot to ad a great ideagrin

vjg13 Thu 18-Sep-08 12:21:12

We got to one. It is every 2 weeks on a saturday for 2 1/2 hours and run by 2 Mums with some paid helpers. It's for kids with any additional needs and their siblings up to age 10.

There are toys out, some craft type things and sometimes cooking. The last bit is singing or parachute games. They do discos, trips out etc. They also do nights out and away for parents.

We think it is fantastic and have made some good friends. smile smile

I think starting one is a fantastic idea but maybe try and persuade some other mums to help. I think weekends are good because the whole family can go or the Dads for a change.

Marne Thu 18-Sep-08 16:18:54

Great idea, we are going to look at dd's new play group tommorrow, we have to travel 10 miles to our nearest (special playgroup).

MannyMoeAndJack Thu 18-Sep-08 17:04:59

It sounds like a great idea in principle but as with all 'business propositions', you do need to decide who your target market is going to be. SN is just too wide IMO. For kids such as my ds, I wouldn't be able to take him to just any old hall - there would be too many hazards such as fire doors to escape from (because the push-down handles are always waist-height), toilets to run into, chairs and tables to climb on/tip over and so on. I guess this sounds extreme but this is how many young ASD kids behave!!! If you're going to cater to mobility impaired kids, then the above concerns would probably not be relevant but if you're planning to cater for kids such as my ds, then more care will need to be taken with the venue. Good luck!

jammydodger Thu 18-Sep-08 17:13:34

Wow, thanks for all your messages, really useful.
There's quite a lot to think about there - particularly the venue and target market as Mannymoe says. But I'll definitely do it - will check first with the Health Visitors as I guess they would know the kind of level of demand in the local area, and take it from there.
Thanks so much!

jammydodger Thu 18-Sep-08 17:17:14

vgc13, that's interesting about your group and that you find Saturdays a good day to go. - I was thinking it'd be good on that day for all the parents who work during the week. And I'm trying to find some other mums to help out: the HV might be able to help with that one, perhaps.

moondog Thu 18-Sep-08 21:27:26

Hi Jammy!
You sound a bit like me.I'm a salt (and have a private baby signing business) aand have 2 kids, one with SLI.

Lovely idea but be careful;. You could generate a lot of extra work and responsibility for yuorself.

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