Sports and Children with Special Needs

Children with special needs or disabilities need an outlet to express & enjoy themselves.  The benefits children get from playing sports, exercising & the pure enjoyment of physical activities ticks all the boxes for this.


Special needs children are sometimes discouraged about exercising because their Carers may fear they will get hurt. Notwithstanding this, physical activity is an important feature for special needs children as it is for any other child.  Engaging in sports can help boost self-confidence, improve life skills & relationship building as well as getting the child involved in working in a team setting. It can help in managing weight & also lead to a healthy lifestyle in general.


The benefits of children with disabilities partaking in sports or other regular physical activities are many & caried:

  • Better overall fitness.
  • Improved cognitive health.
  • Better control of weight.
  • Healthier bone density.
  • Better emotional and psychological health.
  • Improved social skills.
  • Improved motor skills.
  • More self-esteem.
  • Reduced risk for diseases such as diabetes


Types of sports for special needs children


Literarily any sport or activity can be altered to give special needs children the opportunity to participate & enjoy themselves.  Activities can be tailored to the child’s needs to promote cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength-training benefits for children to stay healthy and fit. Children in a wheelchair, for instance, can play basketball or tennis. Children without the use of limbs or those with mental disabilities can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding.


Sports and activities notably appropriate for special needs children include:

  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Handball
  • Gymnastics
  • Weightlifting


Some sports do not need any alterations to make them appropriate for children with disabilities. For instance, the buoyancy felt in the water while swimming offers a sense of freedom for wheelchair-bound children.


Other activities can be changed to make them a better fit. Therapeutic riding programs, for example, can help children learn to ride a horse with proper instruction. Also, these programs use special devices to keep children safe, whatever their needs might be.   There are also a variety of wheelchair sports teams and leagues for children with disabilities.


Getting started with sports.


Carers of special needs children should always encourage participation in sports and physical activity. Children should be guided to take part in sports in which they can succeed and have funCDSS always advocates Carers to encourage children with special needs to actively involve themselves in physical activities & sports that are appropriate & safe.  Carers & support personnel of children with disabilities may even consider getting their child to complete a physical exam. This will help make sure the child is healthy enough to play the desired sport. Carers can also advise sporting coaches about the child’s disability. This way anyone running sporting activities for children with disabilities can ensure the sports activities are appropriate, positive, safe, and a healthy experience for the child.