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Tips for including children with special needs into your program

10 General Tips

  1. Be patient. It may take a child with a disability twice as long to complete a task but do not rush them.
  2. Give them choices. Make them feel like they are in control of the decision but have both choices something that you want them to do.
  3. Get to know the child individually, their personal likes and dislikes.
  4. Give them plenty of warning time before transitioning to a new activity. For example, tell them 10 minutes, then 5 minutes, than 2 minutes in advance.
  5. Explain to them the schedule of activities for the day. Also try to keep your schedule fairly consistent and familiar
  6. Let them be in control every once in a while and let them have free time when necessary.
  7. Give them one instruction at a time, keeping your instruction simple and easy to understand.
  8. Give them space- make sure they feel like they are in a safe environment.
  9. Don't exclude children with special needs, make they just as part of the group as every other child.
  10. Use this as a teaching opportunity for the other Children. Children at a young age tend to be more accepting of their peers and if they learn that these children with a special need are just like themselves they can create lifelong friendships. Acceptance is an extremely important skill for children to learn at a young age.
  11. Pair up individuals with exceptionalities with able-bodied children. This will make your job easier, allow for integration and often times children learn the most from other children

10 Sports related tips

  1. Level the playing field/ Modify the game so that everyone is able to participate.
    For example: Blind volleyball, wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, etc.
  2. Rotate the lines so that everyone has equal playing time
  3. Be willing to change the rules 
  4. Make everyone feel special and important
  5. Provide opportunities for integration so that children without disabilities learn that everyone is capable of physical activity
  6. Explain each skill individually and allow them to practice before playing the game
  7. Give lots of breaks and allow for negotiation. For example if they want free time instead of participating in the sport make them play for 5 minutes and then give them a short break.
  8. Demonstrate to the child what to do physically rather than just verbally. Often times this makes the task simpler to understand.
  9. Push them out of their comfort zones but remember to stay within their limits. Identify their strengths and push them within their strengths instead of their weaknesses.
  10. Focus on success. Recognize and reward small accomplishments.
  11. Allow able-bodied children to learn from these children with exceptionalities. Often times children with exceptionalities will have an extreme strength in a certain area, use this strength as an opportunity for them to teach this skill to their peers.