Choosing The Right Sport For a Child With Special Needs

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Some years ago, a boy was born 95% deaf from rubella. Despite this, he was a talented athlete and excelled in baseball, basketball, and soccer. He made history by being the first African American with a disability to play in a world series. Today Curtis Pride is the first deaf baseball player in about 50 years.

Choosing The Right Sport For a Child With Special Needs
“Curtis Pride Wall Picture” by The Carouselambra Kid is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

There is a whole lot your kid can achieve amidst a physical, mental, or emotional disability. Just like Curtis and several others, your child may be the next athletic star the world gets to celebrate and draw motivation.

In this read, we’ll focus on how to choose a sport for your kid with special needs. But first of all;

Why Sports?

how-to-choose-a-sport
Source: Istock

Generally, sports will help give your child achieve:

  • Improved general fitness
  • Better psychological and emotional wellbeing
  • Enhanced social abilities
  • More confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved motor abilities, and
  • Healthier bones.

How to Choose a Sport For Kids With Special Needs

Wondering how to choose a sport for your special little ones? Here are four (4) basic ways you can:

  1.  Limitations are only in the heart.

Most parents of children with special needs tend to be scared and sometimes withdraw their kids from some activities because they feel the kids may not cope. But, the only way your child can excel is if they take the bold step and try it out.

So the first step to choosing a sport for your kid is to encourage participation in sports where they can excel and in physical activities in general. Don’t regard sports as something they are incapable of doing.

  1. Do Physical Examinations
how-to-choose-a-sport
Source: Istock

Make sure your youngster receives a thorough physical examination. It helps ensure that your youngster is healthy enough to participate in the selected sport.

Consult your child’s occupational or physical therapist (OT or PT) for advice and recommendations. Since these professionals are familiar with the specific set of skills your child possesses, they can assist you in defining your goals and available options.

Also, when your child starts a sport, ensure the coach understands and knows how to work with your child for a safe, positive, and healthy experience. 

  1. Expose to Different Sports

Introduce your child to a wide range of sports activities, either live or on TV. Attend a swim meet or a basketball game. Watch cricket or gymnastics on television. Check to see what fascinates your child.

  1. Consider Level of Activity

Naturally, shy and reserved children would avoid activities that demand a lot of energy and effort, while energetic children go for more active sports.

But before you typecast your child based on their activity level, still work with their doctor or therapist, as this will enable you to differentiate between sports that will improve your child’s health from those that may cause complications.

Also, be mindful that your children are prone to change as you expose them to various sports. After determining your child’s level of exercise, you could also make a list of low-impact sports. Include a few high-impact sports you believe kids will enjoy.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Be patient with your child. Sometimes it may take a while for your child to fit in. Enjoy the process and be supportive.
  • You can also check out these sports programs or leagues for children with special needs;
  • The Miracle League is a worldwide organization that helps kids participate in baseball.
  • The Special Hockey International program focuses on people diagnosed as having developmental disabilities.
  • Multisport programs, like Paralympics.
  • The following sports and activities are particularly beneficial for kids with special needs:
how-to-choose-a-sport
Source: Istock
  • Swimming
  •  Bicycling
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Handball
  • Gymnastics
  • Boccia
  • Weightlifting

Sports can be modified to give children with special needs flexibility, cardiovascular, and strength-training benefits that allow them to stay fit and healthy. For instance, kids with mental disabilities can harness the therapeutic advantages of horseback riding.

However, a sport like swimming doesn’t require changes. For kids who use wheelchairs, the buoyancy they experience when swimming gives them a sense of freedom.

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Shalom Ngbala-Okpabi
Shalom Ngbala-Okpabi
We learned to read and write in school, and I took mine to another level.

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