Many parents of special needs children lament their children
being left out of sports programs and other games at school. While many schools are supportive of
the mainstreaming and inclusion method for education, special needs children
are often left behind when it comes to sports.
While many symptoms of special needs, including inattention,
lack of impulse control, and trouble following directions make sports
difficult, or it is problematic when schools and other programs try to set up a
team. Sports programs are limited
for those children with special needs, but the benefits these children can
receive from a team activity is outstanding.
Many children with special needs have difficulty interacting
with peers, and the presence of bullying makes it challenging for some children
to want to participate in sports programs. However, sports programs tailored to special needs children
help encourage social interaction and working as a member of a team. Several of these programs include older
and younger children, and the elders become mentors to the younger ones.
Many parents of special needs children are calling for more
sports programs -- they say when a child is not stimulated, he just sits
there. Parents view these programs
as a way for children to receive stimulation, which is ultimately better for
them. These stimulating activities
improve both social interaction and physical capabilities.
In addition to social benefits of sports programs, physical
advantages also improve a child’s life.
Oftentimes through participation in sports programs and other physical
activities, children with special needs can do things they would not have been
able to do before the programs. For
example, one four-year-old girl with cerebral palsy had difficulty bending her
legs, and her parents would have to carry her around wherever they went; after
cheerleading classes for special needs children, this girl was able to bend her
knees and roll on the ground. Many
of these physical activities can be challenging, but most special needs
children do the movements with smiles on their faces. In the case of the girl with cerebral palsy, the
cheerleading class gave her a chance to do things she would not normally be
able to do, and it gave her a sense of “normalcy” and ability to act like a
Sports programs dedicated to children with special needs
also prevent a source of ridicule from other children, and it provides a sense
of satisfaction when they succeed.
Most people can remember scoring a goal, getting a ball through a
basket, or doing a cartwheel for the first time -- these accomplishments are
ones every child deserves.
If your special needs child is not involved in a sports
program, now is the time to find one.
While your child’s school might not have a program for special needs,
many private facilities will have or will consider creating a class for your
child. Find other parents of
children with special needs who are interested in a sports program -- many companies
are more likely to create a program if there is a large interested party.
Photo by PamelaVWhite
Resource: Northwest Florida Daily News