Inclusion of children with disability

Active Parent Education Kit Fact Sheet 5.

Young people, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, enjoy their sporting experiences in the same way. There are physical, mental and emotional benefits for children with disability who participate in physical activity. These include but are not limited to, promotion of fitness, increased self-esteem and a great confidence boost.

Steps into physical activity1

Becoming involved in sport and active recreation is sometimes just as easy as simply asking to play. As a parent of a child with a disability, explore with your child what might work for them. Ask questions such as:

  • Do you want to play a team sport or individual sport?
  • Would you prefer indoor or outdoor sports?
  • Do you want to play socially or competitively?
  • Do you want to play in a mainstream sport or a disability specific sport?
  • Is there a specific benefit that you want to get from the physical activity (e.g. cardiovascular, strength/muscle endurance or flexibility)?

You could also think about who might assist with your child’s integration into sport and active recreation e.g. coach, club members or disability local area coordinator.

Communication tips for other parents (e.g. coaches or club members involved with children with disabilities)2

  • Try to speak to the child instead of their coach, friend or assistant. If the child is old enough, it should be assumed that they can speak for themselves. However, keep in mind that people with disabilities may have other means of communication e.g. sign language, gestures, eye movements or writing messages.
  • Try to be at eye level with someone who is in a wheelchair by squatting or kneeling beside them. Avoid touching or leaning on their wheelchair as it is considered part of their personal space.
  • People with vision impairments have differing degrees of vision; not all are totally blind. Ask the child how much they can see and stand in an appropriate position e.g. directly in front of them or to one side depending on their visual range.
  • Communication is two-way. Provide the child with the opportunity to express what they require by being patient.
  • Use positive body language, facial expressions and all communication skills i.e. visual and verbal.  

The attitudes of significant other people in the life of a child with a disability must be positive, supportive and dynamic. Their enthusiasm must also be contagious enough to boost the confidence of the child with a disability to ‘give it a go’. When establishing a positive attitude towards participation, it is important to focus on what the child with a disability CAN do and work from there.All parents are instrumental in the inclusion process e.g. accepting, positive attitudes, role modelling.

All parents are instrumental in the inclusion process e.g. accepting, positive attitudes, role modelling.


  1. Canadian Paralympic Committee. (n.d.). Can I play, too?
    Retrieved on the 13/11/09, from
  2. Australian Sports Commission. (2005). Handout 43 Top tips for communicating effectively with people with disabilities. Retrieved on the 13/11/09, from