Ball Games for Disabled Children
Ball games for disabled children not only help to improve overall strength and agility, but also enhance hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. According to a study conducted in Italy and cited by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, throwing, catching, passing and rolling a ball improves the disabled child's muscle response time. Children with disabilities want to be involved in the fun and games like other children, so it's important to adapt games based on the child's fitness level and type of disability.
Tennis Ball Race
This game will help children with physical disabilities practice gross motor skills by holding and passing balls. Repetitive motions like reaching, holding and passing a ball can help improve gross motor skills. Help the children sit in a circle. Find two balls of equal size, but different colors. A white tennis ball and a yellow tennis ball will work well. Give the white ball to one child and then ask her to pass it to her right. When the ball is passed to the second or third child in the circle, hand the same child a yellow ball. She then passes the yellow ball to her right. Instruct the children passing the yellow ball to pass it as quickly as possible. The idea is to pass the yellow ball faster so that it eventually catches up with the white ball. The child who ends up with both balls is “out” and the game starts again.
The musical ball game is similar to musical chairs, except players get points and no one ever gets “out.” Musical ball can help children with limited mobility or wheelchairs to develop gross motor skills in the arms and hands. Visually impaired children can also play this game. Attach some bells to a large colorful beach ball to help visually impaired children pass the ball. Arrange the children in a circle. Give the beach ball to one child. Cue a children's music CD on a portable CD player or cue music on a computer. Instruct the children to begin passing the ball around the circle when the music begins. Allow the music to play for 30 seconds or more, and then stop the music. The child holding the ball when the music stops gets one point. The children begin passing the ball again when the music is restarted. Continue playing until one player reaches five points.
Keep away is an enjoyable game for all children, even children who use a wheelchair. Children draw straws or flip a coin to determine who plays “it,” while the other children divide into two groups. The child playing “it” is positioned between the two groups. Use a large, colorful beach ball or other large, light weight ball. The two teams toss the ball back and forth over the head of the child playing “it” to keep him from catching the ball. Attach bells to the ball to help visually impaired children play this game. When the child playing “it” catches the ball, the player who threw the ball becomes “it.” Also, the team member who catches the ball needs to look out for "it" so he's not tagged. "It" is permitted to tag players who have the ball. Once the team member is tagged, he then becomes "it" and another round is played.
Wheelchair Basketball Game
Older kids and teens can participate in a game of wheelchair HORSE, which is played with two or more children. Wheelchair HORSE is played using the same rules as those for non-disabled children. The only difference is the basket goal is lowered for children in wheelchairs. Arrange a mobile, adjustable basketball goal so that children sitting in a wheelchair can toss a ball into the basket. Children line up and take turns throwing the ball at the basket. Each time a child scores a basket, they get one letter of the word HORSE. The first child to finish the word, wins the game. The game can continue until all children spell the word. You can use any word in place of the word HORSE. For example, young children can play to spell short words, such as "fun" or "cat."
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.