Keeping Children With Disabilities Safe During Sport and Other Activities

Jul 01, 2016
Tagged with: Keeping Children With Disabilities Safe During Sport and Other Activities

Keeping children safe and secure during sporting activities can sometimes be a difficult task – especially if the children in question have disabilities. This is due, in part, to a lack of adequate information concerning the risks involved with certain activities. But before we go into more specific advice (every child is different) on this issue, there are, firstly, general steps that all parents and carers should take to ensure the safety of their child.

These include: being aware of what risks are unique to the child; planning ways to protect the child from these and other risks (and sharing that plan with other relevant people and authorities); and, lastly, being aware that, over the course of time, the child’s specific needs are likely to evolve.

Once you have this general ‘protection plan’ in place, you should also consider and factor in some of the following points which are more clear-cut.

1) Using safety equipment

For most organized sports and activities, safety equipment is geared towards the size and age of a child, and it may not take into consideration the fact they could have a disability.

Things to look out for, among others, may include: car seats (more information here or find a qualified CPS technician to assist), safety bars and handrails, life jackets in the case of water sports, and smoke alarms (if your child has problems hearing).

2) Understanding instructions

Many children with disabilities will have problems understanding instructions, which could put them in danger, especially if they have problems communicating as well.

Does your child have problems hearing or remembering?

If so, ensure that you communicate this to the relevant people, as many adults incorrectly assume that children with disabilities are fully self-aware of their issue, which is often not the case at all.

Steps to protect your child may include teaching them to use a special signal (such as a whistle) when they are in distress in order to alert others, and liaising with relevant authorities (leisure center management, local emergency services, etc) to inform them of your child’s disability so they can act quicker in the case of emergency (more info here).

3) Handling unsafe objects

If your child has problems with handling objects and general movement/special awareness, especially if their pain receptors do not function as they should, then it is likely they may not realize a certain object is unsafe – and they may have problems getting away from the object as well.

To try and eliminate this threat, always scan the environment where they are partaking in the activity thoroughly to check that all areas within their reach are safe.

Also remember to check their clothing for potential hazards (loose strings, zips on a jacket, etc) that could arise when interacting with this environment.

Signing off

I hope this article has been of some use to parents and caregivers – but, above all, remember that every child – not only those with disabilities – is different and will have individual needs.

I would also advise consulting the child’s doctor and/or teacher to seek further guidance with these matters, and where appropriate, seeking professional assistance from an approved child-minder or nanny agency.

In addition, I would also recommend having a look at SafeKids.org (an excellent resource) and this very helpful presentation from the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland.

What advice do you have for keeping children with disabilities safe from injury when it comes to sport and other activities?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Author: Henry Croft



  • bobl07

    Thank you Henry for this information. I have spent many years working with kids with disabilities and safety should always be a high priority. It only takes one mishap that could turn away any youth from recreation and sport.