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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Adaptive Sports and Physical Activities for Special Needs Children

January 9, 2011

Adaptive Sports and Physical Activities for Special Needs Children

To begin the new year on The Coffee Klatch Tweet Chat, Pierrette d’Entremont’s topic was : “ Adaptive sports and adaptive physical acitvities for the special needs child. My post today will bring out the benefits of physical activity for a special needs child and what is available to make this happen.

Going in the Tweet Chat session, I was certain it would prove how disadvantaged rural Special Needs families were in regards to adaptive sports and physical activity. This is still true in many areas especially with sport teams because the Special Needs community and the support and funding are not there in numbers great enough to make it work. But rural areas have wide open spaces offering ample orpportunities for families to enjoy walks, bike rides, horse back riding and lots of unstructured physical activities. 

Surprisingly what IT technology has done to social communication it has also opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for helping your Special Needs child to exercise right in your home. Furthermore, these new, interactive electronic games/activities can be played with more than one player helping foster social skills.

If families find it too expensive to have these games in their homes, schools and community-based fitness centers and programs, like public gyms or local YMCA’s, already have Wii games and exercise modules in place for the use of their members/students. There are also other such games available and new ones coming out all the time.

My Child Does Not Like Sports or Any Physical Activity

So you say no form of sports or physical exercises interest your child...promote other activities that involve moving/movements that will almost have the same end results. These come to mind and they are great for all the family and some are relatively not expensive. Can you add others in the comment box?

* Collecting rocks, leaves, flowers, insects…

*Photographing the objects others would collect or different balconies, unique door knockers, various signs, windows, roofs, birds…

*, herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, berry bushes,  small green house...

 *Watching birds, squirrels, bugs, frogs….

*Playing catch with a dog, throwing a ball back and forth with a friend.

* Sitting on huge balls and keeping your balance.

*Learning to juggle, stacking cups, arm wrestling...

*Flying kites, making huge soap bubbles...

*Using hula hoops, gymnastic ribbons, dancing,

*Skipping ropes, hop scotch games, playing hide and seek

*Bowling, table tennis, swimming pool games

*Enjoying a playground, playing in your back yard on swings, slides...

Where to Start?

Do it right and have peace of mind. Check with your family doctor, have your child evaluated and find out what sports/physical activity would be suitable for him or her. Be sure you're aware of any risks your child faces, get familiar with the proper safety precautions needed and familiarize yourself with any equipment needed. Almost any kind of disability can be accommodated with adaptive exercise/sport equipment or certain technique adjustments.

Benefits of Physical Activity for Special Needs Children

All individuals benefit from regular physical activity and special needs children especially. We could all gain from these physical, mental and social benefits of being active.

*See improvements in muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.

* Improve exercise endurance, cardiovascular efficiency, and possibly increased life expectancy.

*Experience better balance, motor skills and body awareness.

*Will show improvement in behavior, academics, self-confidence and building friendships.

* Will have positive changes in their health, quality of life and boost to their self-esteem.

* Gets to experiences a sense of accomplishment and possibly the taste of winning.

*Experience increases in attention span, on-task behavior, and level of correct responding.

*Will increase appetite and improve quality of sleep.

*Will see a decrease in secondary health complications like obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes.

*Will find an outlet for their physical energy, will help them cope with stress, anxiety and depression.

Physical Education Programs Available in Schools for SN Kids

Children with Special Needs are children first with the same needs and desires as their peers. The difference is that SN kids need adaptations and extra support.

In the United States to support their ability to learn in school, three Federal laws apply to children with special needs:
• The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (1975)
• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
• The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990).

PE Central site states: “Special physical education/Adapted Physical Education (APE) is a federally mandated component of special education services [U.S.C.A. 1402 (25)] and ensures that physical education is provided to the student with a disability as part of the child's special education services.” Physical education involves physical fitness, motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns, aquatics skills, dance skills, individual, group games, and sports (including lifetime sports).

 The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Public Law 108-466 (2004), states that physical education is a required service for children and youth between the ages of 3-21 who qualify for special education services because of a specific disability or developmental delay. A personally designed program will be outlined in the child's Individual Education Program/Plan (IEP).

Under US federal law, SN kids are entitled to participate in organized sports, physical education and recreational programs unless their presence puts them or someone else in danger. Many cities and towns now offer adaptive recreation classes and sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, swimming, bowling, and tennis…SN kids can enroll in summer camps, Scout groups, dance groups, yoga classes...which  now cater to all groups of youngsters.

Whether your special needs child has a visible disability, like Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome, or an 'invisible' disability like Autism or Asperger’s, chances are you're constantly advocating for doors to open to a better life. A fit child has the odds stacked in his favor for a better life. Also physical activity is important because usually inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. Parents can be role models for an active lifestyle. Lead by example, make it a family affair and best of all have fun!

How do you make sure your Special Needs child gets his required daily amount of physical exercise?

Related Posts:
Benefits of Physical Activity for Children
My Child Does Not Like Any Sport or Any Physical Activity ~ Now What?
Girls Lack of Physical Activity Begins With the Way They Dress
Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

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