Should Your Special Needs Child Play Sports?
Although all children are different, I will share with you my views on sports and children with special needs. Should Your Special Needs Child Play Sports?
If your child is having difficulties socially in school, you may be tempted to sign him or her up for basketball or soccer with the other kids. You know your child better than anyone. Just be sure that you’re setting your child up for a positive, rather than a negative experience.
My Son has Autism
The things I have heard from Coaches about kids on their team would make you spit nails.
“Oh, he’s an awful player. He’s got some kind of disorder or something.”
“I hope he doesn’t sign up next year.”
And, the parents in the stands are just as bad.
“What is wrong with that kid?!”
“Put him on the bench.”
It Made Me Sick
And, that was all heard in reference to kids in the regular 3rd – 6th grade classes.That is not even what other children say about them! I know. It made me sick, too.
Now, I’m not at all saying that team sports should be avoided. Just make sure you know who will be coaching your child, and make sure that he or she is someone who you want in charge of your child’s self-esteem for the next few months.
There ARE wonderful coaches
Coaches who understand the impact they have upon children and make sure that it is positive. And, of course, there are special camps and organization with coaches trained in encouraging and training special needs kids. Devon has wonderful coaches, he might now play sports but he does love to kick the soccer ball around and he loves bowling. He plays in the Special Olympics and does wonderful!
However, if team sports are not your child’s strong suit and he or she gets very stressed or has that “lost” look while participating, then here are some alternatives:
Camping as a family
Going on Long Walks with You
Bike Riding (go on bike trails if you are concerned about safety)
Going to the Park (just being a kid!)
Each of these activities will help strengthen your child physically and give him or her the benefits of self-confidence as well.
Yes, all kids need to be physically active, but at what cost? Surely not at the cost of feeling like they are not good enough. Don’t feel pressured into pushing your child into a team sport that may do more harm than good.