Everyone is in need of physical activity for favorable health, including people with disabilities. According to the CDC, 53 million adults in the USA are living with a disability. However, nearly 50% of those who are capable of being physically active does not get nearly enough physical activity. As a fitness professional, it is always good to be armed with as many skills and certifications as possible as it will allow you to stand out in an intensely competitive field. Obtaining the necessary certifications that will enable you to provide all-inclusive training to the disabled will not only allow you to cater for a niche market but will see you render an invaluable service to the community as well.
Last month we talked about working with children with physical disabilities.
We will continue the discussion of physical impairments with visual, hearing and speech and language impairments.
A visual impairment is more than someone who wears eyes glasses. Their visual acuity is 20/70 or less, and they will struggle with vision, even when using a corrective prescription. A trainer or teacher may assist the student by using verbal directions and by asking the student for how the student learns best. Because of their limited vision, the student often has poor motor skills and displays easy fatigue. Ask them how they would feel comfortable being guided. Give students mental pictures and descriptive words. Simplifying the game or skill is also effective. Also, give a mental picture of the environment and have a student helper that can stay with the participant as they participate in the activity. If the child is partially sighted use reflective tape for visual guidance.
Inclusion is a term used quite frequently in our society. It means that as trainers and teachers, we will have students with disabilities in our classrooms and fitness facilities, and we must learn how to meet their unique needs in daily activities and welcome them in our schools, churches, and recreation/gyms, while striving to serve the general public as well. This is a daunting task even for those people who specialize in special education. I believe that this article is essential for anyone who works with children with disabilities. This series is divided into four categories addressing those students with physical, mental, learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Please read each of these sections since the person you may be working with will have a variety of disabilities and perhaps a combination of multiple diagnoses. This month we will explore physical disabilities.