You are here: Home / Articles / How Physical Training can Help Special Needs Kids Lead More Normal Life
How Physical Training can Help Special Needs Kids Lead More Normal Life
Children with special needs can benefit from physical activity and training just as much as able-bodied people can. Even though kids with physical disabilities face challenges and often have limited mobility, studies have shown that children with special needs benefit from having a comprehensive physical program that can impact beyond the physical aspects of their lives. Some of the gains special needs can experience through physical activity include improved muscle strength, coordination, flexibility and endurance. In some instances their life expectancy can even be increased. All of the benefits are not physical. Special needs kids can also show improved behavior, academic achievement, have more self-confidence, and can build lasting friendships. There truly is no downside to special needs kids engaging in physical activity, as it can help them lead a more normal life.
At one time I worked with a child with dyspraxia, a brain-based condition that makes it difficult for children to plan and coordinate muscle movement. Children who suffer from this disease struggle with balance and posture. They often seem to be clumsy, as it affects both their gross and fine motor skills. Many children with this condition need to make an extra effort to learn the skills that many of us can do simply through mimicking or by instinct. The symptoms are often alleviated with occupational and physical therapies. Here is an account of my experiences with a child who has this condition:
He was seven years old when I met him. He couldn’t lift up his left leg when he was told. He had a problem jumping on one leg. Cycling was something he loved and he was only able to do so on a three-wheeler.
As a child with dyspraxia, he would be seen as clumsy and rather awkward among his peers. In less than three months, he was able to cycle on a bike with only two wheels, which gave him a bit of freedom.
He became more willing to explore other activities.
Then, we started working with him to play soccer. He wanted to play and liked the idea of kicking the ball. But, his left side was less agile and had less strength.
But, he worked on his drills and strength training and was soon able to hop on one leg and eventually dribble the ball. Kicking hard on his left is still a problem, but at least he can. Now he does not need to be left sitting during school breaks when all the boys would be running around and playing soccer.
Along with this improvement, he started learning to play the drums and basketball. His life was opened up to more opportunities and interaction with his peers.
The gain is more than physical. There are gains in social interaction and skills that enable them to study and work better.
This apply not just to kids with special needs but to all children!