While all children benefit from physical activities, children with disabilities are seen to benefit especially. Studies have demonstrated that participating in physical activities can help improve motor development and could optimize physical functioning. Not only that, physical activities can help children with special needs by minimizing de-conditioning and enhancing inclusion and helping to improve general quality of life.
Type of activities to concentrate on
Physical activities should be such that they help a special child make friends and feel more included. Pick activities that a child can participate in individually as well as part of a team – the activities could be recreational or competitive; both can be beneficial depending upon each individual circumstance.
Ideally the activity should be geared toward helping a child improve social interaction, develop life skills and enhance individual functioning and self esteem.
It can also help a lot if the activities are such that parents can participate in and if the parents do make the effort to do so. If this is not possible, the parents should at least be a role model to demonstrate the importance and desirability of physical activity and should incorporate this into the family’s lifestyle. The presence and involvement of parents can not only be reassuring, it can also bolster confidence.
Activities that can help children with disabilities
Structured sporting activities with team participation such as baseball, basketball, soft ball and so on can be very beneficial. For children with physical disabilities specially organized activities such as ambulatory or wheelchair basketball can be opted for. Even one on one games such as ping pong, tennis or badminton are activities that children can start to enjoy and look forward to.
Learning to swim can be fun and can instill a sense of achievement in a child with disabilities; it can quickly become something that a child looks forward to and a great way for the entire family to spend time together.
Yoga, tai chi or Pilates are the sort of exercises that can be made physically undemanding so that children with physical disabilities can also participate.
Other fun activities for children with disabilities could be specially organized nature rambles, Scout groups or camps. Parents would have to take a call on whether their child is up to an activity that involves one or more nights away from home.
Dance can be another fun activity for children with disabilities. It can be an enjoyable way of expressing oneself can be a creative outlet as well.