Just because your child is in a wheelchair or has other physical disabilities does not mean that they can’t stay active. Physical activity is important for children (and adults!) of all ages and abilities. Strive to adapt activities to ensure that all children are included and can participate. Partnering up children with disabilities with those without can benefit both and make activities more fun.
There are plenty of games and sports that children can play when properly modified. For instance, lower the basketball hoop for children in wheelchairs or place a ball on a tee instead of having it be pitched. Let your child try a variety of activities and adapt to their needs.
If your child has trouble running or using their legs, focus on their arms. Play games that involve:
- Tossing a ball back and forth
- Waving ribbons around
- Lifting a parachute
- Moving to music using their upper body
These types of activities can help to strengthen their arm muscles and work their core as well. Building core strength can support sitting, twisting, and bending in addition to arm movements. If your child likes the water, try swimming as well. This offers less resistance and can work a wide range of muscles. They can feel freer while staying active and having fun.
It can also help to adjust the rules or setup of a game you’re playing. For instance:
- Make nets lower
- Have everyone sit on the ground while playing
- Decrease the size of the playing field
- Play games with a partner
- Use rackets, paddles, sticks, or other devices
- Use a larger ball to make catching/throwing/rolling/kicking easier
Simple changes can increase the level of inclusion and help children with physical disabilities to be more active and engaged. It can also be fun to create races or obstacle courses as an exciting way to get more exercise while practicing skills. Set up some cones, arrange a ball toss into baskets or hula hoops, or have them race to tag a partner as part of a relay.
Also look for adaptive classes, gyms, or playgrounds in your area. These resources are specially designed to be inclusive and meet the needs of children with special needs so that they can stay active and have fun with peers. Let your child help decide what activities they like to do or would like to try. Giving them some ownership can make games, sports, and tasks more fun because they’re part of the decision making process. This can help them to feel more invested in what they’re doing because it’s something they chose.
PediaPlex supports children in improving socialization, communication, fine motor skills, following directions, and much more. Children can become more confident in their abilities and interactions with others, which can in turn make staying active more fun.
Unsure about what services or therapies could most benefit your child? Fill out an intake form and see how PediaPlex can help.