This research article published on RecreationTherapy.com makes a strong case for opportunities for children with disabilities to enjoy recreational and leisure activities with others their age who do not have disabilities.
Often, when children with disabilities attend activities in integrated settings, they experience little or no social interaction with the people around them. To promote interaction, someone may need to provide support to get the child involved with other children and to create opportunities for friendships to grow.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Facilitate involvement with other children. Persons providing support can provide a connecting link between the children of the community and the child with disabilities.
- Don’t unintentionally create separation. Be careful that the facilitator not be seen as “the person who relates only to the child with disabilities.”
- Back off. Often, interactions occur without any involvement of a support person. The presence of an adult may inhibit interactions. It may be beneficial to let things happen on their own.
- Observe the interactions of others in the setting. The person providing support should promote opportunities for interaction, even if that means revising plans for teaching skills to allow for spontaneous play.
- Realize not all interactions are verbal. Cheering together, sitting together and watching an event, and working as a team to build something are examples of nonverbal interactions.
- Offer help only when needed. Too much support can create barriers, because others may not want or know how to get involved. It is important to be conscious of a child's needs for direct support and to know when to back off.
This article includes a lengthy bibliography on the topic of integrated recreation.
Read the entire article here!