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Sports For Children With Disabilities

Definition

A sport is a physical activity which generally involves competition, sometimes as a profession but usually for pleasure. Sports benefit children and their families because they provide not only fun but also:
  • help build a child's self-image
  • connect people through competition
  • help children to meet other children of like interests and situations
  • help children with disabilities by teaching them independence as well as teamwork
  • help improve health, discipline, and confidence
  • What is the information for this topic?

    Who can participate?
    Many children with varied disabilities can find a sport to play at an appropriate level. Sports exist for children with visual impairments, hearing impairments, developmental delays, or other physical impairments.
    A sport is often modified for children who have differing and varying degrees of disability.. For example, the same sport may be played differently for children who use a wheelchair versus children who use artificial limbs. The same sport would also be adapted for children with mental limits versus physical limits. There are often different levels of competition. Often an elite level, a competitive level, and a fun level are offered.
    What kinds of sports are available?
    A wide variety of sports are available to children with disabilities. The type of sport available and recommended level will vary based on the child's abilities, needs, and interests. Many sports are geared for participation in wheelchairs. Some of the elite and competitive sports levels use specialized adaptive equipment. For blind athletes, the sport may be completed with the guidance of a sighted companion.
    Examples of different sports that children with disabilities may play include, for example, wheelchair basketball. This team sport, one of the most popular for children with disabilities, is played on a regulation basketball court. It can be rough because of the contact of the wheelchairs. Familiar rules governing basketball are modified for children who are in wheelchairs. Two pushes of the chair are allowed before the ball must be dribbled, passed, or shot.
    Swimming is popular with many children with disabilities because they become weightless in the water. It gives some children a sense of physical freedom. Swimming can increase muscle strength and abilities. Swimming activities for children with disabilities can range from informal games to organized competition.
    Wheelchair tennis is played on a typical tennis court. A player will need good arm strength to play this game. Typical tennis rules are modified for children who are in wheelchairs. A player gets 2 bounces of the ball on his or her side of the court. It then has to be hit back to the other player.
    Bowling is done in a typical bowling facility. Some children grip and throw the ball. Generally, a lighter bowling ball is used. Some children can use metal or wood ramps to send the ball down the lane. Others can use a bowling stick. This is a pole with 4 prongs. It is used to give the ball a push to send it down the lane. Some of the other sports that are available are archery, soccer, shooting, billiards, track events, field events, wheelchair racing, snow skiing, quad rugby, ping pong, racquetball, softball, and weight lifting.
    Organized sports camps may also offer a variety of sports for children with disabilities. These camps usually have equipment to help accommodate different disabilities to allow for children to participate and enjoy a variety of activities.
    Where can one get more information?
    The child and his or her parents should discuss sports options with the healthcare provider. Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other organizations provide information on sports for children with disabilities. These organizations can help with choosing the best sport for the child. Associations such as the Special Olympics and the Paralympics Games provide sports opportunities for children with disabilities.

    Sources

    Dorland, William Alexander Newman: Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary Twenty-sixth Edition. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1981

    Karp, Gary (1999). Life on Wheels. O'Reilly&Associates, Inc., Sebastopol, CA

    The Merrian-Webster Dictionary Home and Office Edition, 1998 Merrian-Webster, Inc., Publishers. Springfield, Mass.

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