While most people have the ability and freedom to choose an activity that looks like fun and go for it, those with unique special needs may not be able to participate so easily, especially in community sports activities!
Sadly, too many people with special needs and disabilities don’t have the luxury of getting themselves out into the community to participate in the same sports or other activities that the rest of us just take for granted.
Finding sports opportunities that special needs individuals can easily and comfortably participate in often poses quite a challenge!
Yet everyone, including those with special needs and disabilities should be afforded the same opportunities to participate in the sport of their choice as everyone else does!
Even though we are huge advocates for inclusion and not isolating our daughter, Bethany, from her typical peers, we often find that she enjoys programs specially designed for people with autism better than other programs.
She just requires a bit more structure, supervision, assistance and accommodation in order for sports participation to truly be enjoyable experiences.
In a nutshell, the following are three things Bethany needs to fully enjoy and participate in community sports activities and I suspect there are others with special needs who might benefit from them also.
- The assistance and supervision of another responsible adult to ensure safety.
- Special understanding and accommodations.
- Physical modifications to the environment, equipment, and at times, even the rules.
Below is a list of agencies and sports programs in the US for those with special needs or disabilities:
- Special Olympics’ mission is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
- Disabled Sports USA provides adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through sports.
- The Miracle League provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities.
- Surfer’s Way is a non-profit organization designed to offer children with special needs the opportunity to experience the exhilaration and liberation of surfing.
- Educated Sports Parents has a list of special needs sports organizations available on their website!