Research has shown that physical education programs can do a great deal to improve the lifestyle of children with special needs. They can increase competency in gross motor skills, help to control obesity, improve self-esteem and social skills, and encourage an active lifestyle Exercise can provide significant benefits for children in all developmental stages of life. Regular participation in physical education would promote positive advancements in students with special needs.
What are the Benefits for Children to participate in Physical Education?
The benefits of physical education are universal for all children including those with disabilities. Although 18% of the children and adolescents in the USA have chronic conditions opportunities for their participation in fitness and activity programs, whether, for leisure, recreation is limited.
International efforts to promote the social and emotional well-being of children with special needs through participation in recreational in sports and physical fitness activities began with the first competitive event for individuals with disabilities in 1948, followed by the first Paralympics competition in 1960, and the development of the SPECIAL OLYMPICS in 1968.
The Special Olympics is now the largest recreational program for players with intellectual disabilities (J.H. Rimmer, Ph.D., 2007)
Primary goals for increasing physical activity with children's disabilities are to reverse deconditioning. Regular physical activity is essential for the maintenance of normal adaptive behaviours and fatigue in children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Regular physical activity can foster independence, coping abilities competitiveness, and teamwork among children with disabilities.
Just some benefits students with special needs can experience with the right exposure.
A scientific study found that participation in physical activity and sport leads to improved levels of well-being and physical health. Children who have a diagnosed intellectual disability may have additional physical disabilities which can result in below age-level performance in typical motor skills. Regular involvement in physical education and sport can help them to develop the skills they need.
Mental Improvement in confidence
Exposure to sports through physical education classes isn’t only good for a child’s body it’s beneficial to the mind too. Physical activity improves general mood and wellness in psychiatric patients suffering from anxiety and depressive disorders. Regular fitness links to improvements in self-esteem, social awareness, and self -confidence empowering the lives of young people with special needs.
Behavioural improvements in Relationships and Clubs
The nature of physical education leads to cognitive improvements in children with special needs, allowing them to access skills that they could not challenge within a traditional classroom setting.
HOW TO INCLUDE A STUDENT WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION
- Sensory Integration
The first two things I observed always notice about physical education classes are loud music and fluorescent lights in the gym. These are major barriers to students with some types of neurological difference. Students are also sensitive to bright sunlight outdoors and the sound of squeaking on the floor, making it difficult for physical education teachers to find an appropriate location for the class. The music problem is easy to solve by lower the volume or turn it off. Soundproof headphones may also be used indoors and sunglasses can be used outdoors. Schools may find the option of changing the lighting by using cost-effective LED light bulbs or simply shutting off some lights and relying on natural lighting.
Behavior is always a concern in physical education classes where there is plenty of movement and incidents can happen in rapid succession.
Physical education is the perfect opportunity for team-building exercises. Instead of competitive games, the class can focus on creative games.
With the help of social workers and other therapists in attendance, it is possible to develop goals that fit the physical education curriculum and are tailored to a student’s unique needs.
Hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt may be dangerous for individuals with dyspraxia, and softer surfaces such as sand or wood chips make it difficult to manoeuver wheelchair students.
Gym surfaces and outdoor mats are one way to make physical education more accessible
Let’s make physical education accessible and inclusive to all students so that they can learn the life lessons that cannot be taught in a traditional classroom.
TYPES OF SPORT FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
Just about any sports or activity can be altered to give special needs children the cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength-training benefits that allow students to stay healthy and fit.
Children in a wheelchair can play basketball or tennis. Children without the use of limbs or those with mental disabilities can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of horse riding and ice skating.
Sports and activities good for special needs children:
Parents of special needs should encourage participation in sports and physical activity in general rather than guide them towards taking part in sports in which they can succeed and have fun. They must ensure that the child gets a complete physical exam. It helps make sure your child is healthy enough to play the desired sport. Important that the coach understands your child’s disability.
He or she needs to know how it might affect the way your child plays or take instruction. The coach needs to know how to properly talk and work with your child to make sports participation the positive, safe, and healthy experience it should be.
If your special needs child is not involved in a sports program, now is the time to find one. While your child’s school might not have a program for special needs many private facilities will consider creating a class for your child.
Find parents of children with special needs who are interested in the sports program.
Supporting Special Needs Children with Special Health Care
Children with special needs are more likely to be obese and less likely to be physically active than children without special needs. Nearly 75% of individuals across the life span with disabilities do not get enough physical activity to benefit their health.
Children and youth with special health needs may encounter barriers to physical activity in common with all children
How can health Care Providers Support Physical Activity for Children with Special Health Care Needs
It is important for health care providers to regularly discuss participation in physical activity with children with special needs and their families. They can reassure that there are ways for all children who are not acutely ill to participate in physical activity.
It is always important to assess each child individual needs. When health care providers perform pre-participation in evaluations for children with special health care needs they can collaborate with and get input from the child, the family, schools, child care providers, therapists, coaches, and others to build an integrated approach for safe physical activity.
Physical activity and sports for an individual with special needs are important, the benefits of sports and activity programs are equally important for individuals with disabilities as they are all individuals. Physical activity is an effective way of addressing the obesity epidemic and other illnesses.
Individuals participating in inactivity have a high self- esteem and a high rate of academic success. Despite benefits, individuals with special needs are not getting the same amount of physical activity and sports opportunities than those without disabilities Children with disabilities are still facing inequities in physical activity programs and sports, especially in our educational institutions.
We need a comprehension change to address and exclusion discriminating students with disabilities face in terms of physical activity, opportunities, and resources for sports participation.
Durban Africa Sports Club, Executive members, BABES GOVENDER