Special Needs Sports — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Special Needs Sports

by Heather P


When Jack was first diagnosed, and we still felt like the world was ending, my husband was devastated. Not because of the diagnosis, but because of what Jack may not ever be able to do—play football, or baseball, or any of those “guy” things. Personally, I believe that deep down, there’s this innate thing that guys have–I think they daydream of dirt and sweat and the smell of sweaty socks.

Last week, I discovered that my local (well, it’s not in my town, but the next town over) recreation department has special needs sports–dancing, cheerleading, swimming, and baseball.

My heart nearly stopped dead.

I cautiously called and inquired.

I listened. I cried. Tears of absolute joy.

Tuesday, Jack had his first special needs swimming lesson. He was less than thrilled, but the instructor was amazing. He gets one on one instruction from someone who truly cares about him…not his disability.

Do you have sports for special needs in your area? Do you love it? If you aren’t already involved, do you want me to help you find something in your area?



Email Author    |    Website About Heather P

Heather is a mom of two, wife, and nurse educator doing what she can to save the day! She lives in Orlando where she is routinely spotted driving while singing ABBA--all on a mission to advocate and educate!

View all articles by


This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them, you support this site. Thank you!
See our Disclosure Policy for details.
1 Janet May 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Here in St. Louis metro we have a wide variety of options. My 9-year-old plays Challanger Baseball. All the kids are given a complete uniform (hat, shirt, pants, socks) and they have a buddy on game day (them mom’s can cheer!). Depending on the number of kids that day, they play 2 or 3 innings. Each inning, everybody bats, no one makes an out and the last batter always hits a homerun. Then everyone plays the field. In the 5 to 10 age group they added 2 teams this year, so there are now 6! It is so fun.

2 Heather P May 20, 2012 at 10:33 am

YES, Janet! That’s the same league they do here! I cannot WAIT to be a screamin’ Momma! 🙂

3 Janet May 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

That’s me and one of the grandma’s (she is raising her granddaughter w/ Down syndrome). We cheer for everybody. At Saturday’s game one of the mom’s who came to watch her son (who was one of the buddies)and read a book moved her chair because of us. We both stand the whole time because you never know when Luke is going to run off or Angel is going sit down. I still need to get my “Rocket Mom” shirt to wear to the games (his team is the Rockets)

4 KDL May 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I know there are challenger baseball leagues in our area. We have not tried them, though we have friends that have. My daughter’s motor delays are quite mild, so we’ve had success in mainstream gymnastics classes with lots of information given to the coaches on her language and behavior needs. I view it as O/T for her since we can afford private O/T.

5 Heather P May 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

OOh…that’s awesome! Gymnastics has to be AWESOME for gross motor skills–plus being on a team reinforces rules and boundaries! Good for y’all!

6 Katie Carr May 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

This sounds awesome. My son Zac has a great love of all things physical. Jumping, crashing into to things, playing basketball, hitting the T-ball. I would definitely love help in finding something he can participate in. Swimming or horseback riding would be perfect too! He turns 5 on Monday and I can’t believe he is getting so big . . .

7 Heather P May 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

Katie, check out the Challenger Baseball League (it’s nationwide). I know a lot of towns offer hippotherapy (that’s horse riding therapy)..so google that too! 5…5 was rough for me. It made me feel like time was going way too fast!

8 Mary E Smith May 19, 2012 at 10:43 am

One of the downsides to living in a semi rural area is that there are no extra curricular activities for the special kids.I do wish something was offered but I’m not sure if my child would be able to participate due to multiple sensory issues and anxiety problems which cause him to be a perfectionist at everything.

9 Heather P May 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

I worry about that too…but I’m hopeful that the lure of being around others will outweigh the need to be super anxious. So far, he did great at swimming lessons. Bless your heart, I know it’s rough. Know you’re in my thoughts…hugging you tight!

10 Mary E Smith May 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thank you so much for the kind words.I really needed them today.

11 Claire Toplis May 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I am from the Uk and locally to me with have a special neeeds Basketball set up which is very good.

12 Heather P May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

OOH! Basketball sounds FUN! YIPPEE~

13 Dawn Roode August 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm

We have found that sports are hugely beneficial to all children with special needs. In the NYC metro area families are fortunate to have many options. We wrote about the myriad benefits of sports for children with special needs in an article last year, and it was one of our most popular special needs posts!


Also, I came upon this article well after it was initially published, but it is welcome to see how sports can influence someone’s life amidst much of the talk and hype around Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprint runner who runs on the Olympic team. I think sharing that story with children who are old enough to grasp it will provide a doe of inspiration.

Thanks for your site—this was a wonderful discovery through Google!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: