Fitness for children with special needs

By Joan Salmon

Special needs means various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioural, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or special services or accommodation.
Elly Muhereza, a fitness and wellness coach, says every child, regardless of their ability, should engage in physical activity.

By engaging in physical activity, children can increase skeletal development, increase heart and lung health, improve functional movements and become more social. He, however, asserts that exercise should be fun and engaging and provide an outlet for children with disabilities to discover their true potential.

“Having a disability should not be a reason for children not to engage in physical activity. It is very important to note that children with physical disabilities can participate in most sports as this gives them emotional boost,” he says. He also urges these children to embrace their disability and participate in as many physical activities as possible.
Julius Oyeyo, an occupational therapist at Tunaweza Children’s Centre, adds that these exercises are therapeutic in nature and are geared toward achieving something.

Oyeyo says basketball develops arm and leg muscles. It is ideal for children with cerebral palsy and delayed physical milestones. It also helps in developing the small muscles found in their hands, fingers and wrists because when these are strengthened, they can write with ease.

A chair squat
To do this exercise, Muhereza says, find the chair where the participant’s feet can touch the ground while sitting. Start in a sited position with feet shoulder-with apart and arms crossed. Push knee out and stand up, keeping a straight back. Repeat until when you feel tired.
“Volleyball targets muscle building, coordination as well as building social skills,” Oyeyo adds.

Oyeyo says this swimming is great for hyperactive children such as those with autism, Attention Deficit Disorder as it calms them down. It also improves the balance of those with weak limbs, such as those with cerebral palsy as they are still undergoing rehabilitation.

Speed agility ladder
According to Muhereza, this ranks high on the special needs home exercises due to its versatility. He adds that it can be used by a big number for more than 100 different exercises. It helps to work on balance, sensory skills, motor skills, strength, endurance, and engages both sides of the brain.

There are several functional exercises that will benefit the special needs population. However, each of them is unique, so find what works best for you and add it to your special need children.

Interaction and involvement with other children will help give them a sense of accomplishment and teamwork while working on communication skills. A great example of this is participation in structured sport. Structured sports provide a learning tool that can help children practice self-regulation and decision making skills

Facebook Comments


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here