Special needs children have fitness and health needs too. Individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities are often left out and excluded from activities because their typically developing peers are unsure how to understand them and interact with them, especially if there are behavioral challenges or communication delays. Any health professionals that have fitness consultant jobs will have to be creative for all inclusion activities.
Fitness ball training can be a great fitness activity for both typical and atypical individuals. Not only do fitness balls build core strength and functional fitness, they are sensory friendly too! Many special needs programs will use fitness ball core training exercises to help individuals with sensory needs get the sensory seeking input they need to help regulate focus, attention, and behavior. Stability ball balance exercises can be performed as well to aid in focus and concentration in addition to improving stability and balance. Yoga exercise balls can be used for improved flexibility and focus.
Trampolines are another fitness tool that can be used in special needs fitness. Trampolines build cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and help tone up the body. You can do a variety of different exercises with a trampoline. Many families and schools will have small individual sized trampolines in their home or classroom to meet the sensory needs of high energy individuals anytime they need it. Larger outdoor trampolines are great for strengthening relationships with siblings and helping to establish health social and communication skills.
Obstacle courses can be a sensory friendly activity as well and you can change it up to meet the specific individual needs of any person. If your child has a lot of sensory needs, you can make an obstacle course that includes splashing playing, bean bags, jumping rope, sand bags, and yoga balls or flat yoga balance balls. You can even encourage creativity and leadership by having your special needs child help design the obstacle course for other family to participate in.
These are just a few ways to help make fitness more inclusive for the special needs community. Sensory friendly fun can be added to a variety of workouts to help be more inclusive to all levels of fitness and all ages at any level. Be kind and be inclusive to all with sensory friendly workouts that encourage fitness for special needs.