Sports can be therapeutic for children with disabilities for a number of reasons. Sports and athletic pursuits get children active and participating in activities that can decrease their risks for obesity, heart-disease and other effects of a sedentary lifestyle. While adaptive sports are not usually classified under the category of traditional ‘therapies,’ they still provide significant concrete benefits for children of all ages, health conditions and interests. Most, if not all, sports can be adapted for disabilities, though the individual offerings available in a specific geographic region may vary due to resource availability, terrain and other factors. Coastal states, for example, are more likely to have adaptive water sports (such as adaptive surfing), while inland programs may focus more on adaptive riding, tennis or bowling.
Adaptive sports can include a wide list of activities, including bowling, fishing, diving, swimming, cycling, skiing, ice skating, water skiing, tennis, golf, football, basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, hockey and volleyball, as well as all of the sports included in the Paralympics and Special Olympics. These sports can be adapted to a wide variety of needs. Because resources like these are generally found on the state or local level, it is often best to check in with your community or school district’s local community enrichment program offerings to determine what kind of activities are available in your individual area. For more information on adaptive sports, please see the following adaptive sports articles and activity listings.
The following are national organizations devoted to helping serve individuals with disabilities who partake in sports:
- National Ability Center
- National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability
- National Sports Center for the Disabled
- Disabled Sports USA
- U.S Paralympics
- Special Olympics
The Assistive Technology website of the UCP Seguin of the Greater Chicago area provides a fairly comprehensive list of many adaptive sports organizations that parents can look into.
Because adaptive sports often require specialized or adaptive equipment, it is important to be able to obtain this equipment. Many local disability organizations may have small lending libraries, but there are additional ways to fund such purchases:
- Becoming a Brand Ambassador
- Securing a Grant
- Buying Refurbished
- Using an Installment Payment Plan
For more information, please see the website of the GRIT Freedom Chair.