I love this picture! How can you help your child to be active this summer? I have found that it is always a challenge to keep my daughter physically active. Those with disabilities have increased barriers and challenges that make it difficult for them. Studies have shown that exercise improves social adjustment such as less behavioral problems, and loneliness, as well as improved school outcomes (King, McDougall, DeWit, 2009). It is also shown to increase self confidence and improved communication skills. Conversely, a lack of physical activities has shown to contribute to the development of dependent behavioral patterns, learned helplessness, and depression (Lotan, Yalon-Chamovitz and Weiss, 2011). The research is pretty convicting that our kids greatly benefit from being physically active.
So how can this be achieved? Through creativity, innovative ideas and persistence. The common thread that guides us who love and care for someone with a disability. Encourage your school to develop a physical education program that would involve students with disabilities and their peers. In our school this was called People P.E. For further information refer to the Parent Educator Connection link for adaptive P.E. and other resources for exercise. It was a great way for friendships to develop and to encourage physical activity that was at an appropriate level. Swimming is an activity that is often appropriate for kids with a disability. Seek out a reputable individual who can give swim lessons. Encourage a softball / baseball league for students with disabilities. If one doesn't exist in your community, approach civic groups; such as the JayCees or the Knights of Columbus that may have an interest in developing one.
On a different note, if you decide to travel to Colorado on vacation, they have a wonderful organization in Winter Park. It is called the National Sports Center for the Disabled. They provide adapted activities for those with disabilities. When my daughter was as young as 4 years old she was paired with one of these fabulous volunteers as she was put on downhill skis for the first time. It was truly mind-boggling what they were and continue to do to allow individuals to be able to enjoy sports that would otherwise seem off limits to those with disabilities.
Lotan, M., Yalon-Chamovitz, S., & Weiss, P. (2011). Training caregivers to provide virtual reality intervention for adults with severe intellectual and developmental disability. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 25(1), 15.
King, J., McDougall, J., & DeWit, D. (2009). Predictors of change over time in the activity participation of children and youth with physical disabilities.Children's Health Care, (38), 321-323.