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Occupational therapists could help disabled children take part in school sports

Tuesday 25th July 2017
Half of disabled children dont feel confident taking part in sports at school, but occupational therapists could help to change that. Image: jarenwicklund via iStock
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Occupational therapists could play a key role in helping children with disabilities to feel more confident taking part in sports, as a new report reveals many are currently uncomfortable with the prospect.

According to research carried out by the children's charity Variety, 50 per cent of parents with a disabled child in the UK say their child does not feel comfortable partaking in sports with other children, with just 19 per cent of those with disabilities regularly playing sports-based games with their friends.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of parents said their disabled child was not able to take part in sports at their school due to a lack of appropriate facilities, while 36 per cent reported that their child had experienced negativity from others in relation to their disability while partaking in sports.

Cost was also cited as a barrier to participation for students of all abilities, while 66 per cent reported that issues surrounding transport were the main reason for children with disabilities being unable to partake in sports at school.

As a result, 72 per cent of respondents said children's confidence had been damaged, they had become more socially isolated and had access to fewer life experiences.

However, employing occupational therapists in schools that cater for special educational needs or where some pupils are disabled could enable these children to feel more supported while taking part in sports.

What's more, involvement from an occupational therapist could also help other children to better understand the needs of disabled children, reducing any stigma around their disability and allowing all students to learn and socialise together.

Commenting on the report, Dr Miriam Stoppard stated: "The participation of children with disabilities in any physical activity can minimise the complications of immobility. Not only does it keep them physically and mentally fit, it also fosters independence, coping abilities and working with other team members."

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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