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Activity and children with a disability

How do I help my child who has a disability get active?

The benefits of physical activity can be even greater for children with a disability.  It can give them a good opportunity to socialise as well as improve physical skills such as co-ordination and balance. 

Here are some ideas that should help get your child active.

  • Be patient, and encourage your child with praise for any progress
  • When doing activities with other children explain why your child may have to do things slightly differently
  • Try not to be overprotective.  If you are worried about what your child should be allowed to do check with your GP or other health professional.
  • If you would like your child to take part in an organised activity or sport, arrange to meet the leader or coach to discuss your child’s particular needs and capabilities.
  • Visit for details for your nearest Special Olympics group. 
  • Most local councils around the country run Local Sports Partnerships. Their role is to promote involvement in sports and they are a good source of information about sport in your local area. Some of them have Sports Disability Inclusion officers who can give you advice on activities for young people with disabilities. You can find contact details for your nearest Local Sports Partnership here.

It is easy to adapt active games and sports to suit individual needs. By making small changes to equipment, time and rules everyone can get active and enjoy taking part.


  • choose larger or lighter bats and racquets
  • experiment with various types of balls – different size, weight, colour or texture
  • use larger goals or targets
  • try scoops for catching activities

Playing area:

  • create a ‘level playing field’, an area that is suitable to all
  • reduce the size of the playing area if necessary


  • slow down the pace of the game or activity
  • increase the time allowed to perform tasks
  • remove time limits altogether
  • include frequent rest periods


  • alter, reduce or simplify the rules
  • give players prompts for what comes next 

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