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Play Ball

You may not be aware that as schools are planning to open up for the spring, they are also preparing to open up spring athletics for school children. A major part of the school experience is the Co-curricular relationships and educational opportunities that are learned in the athletic arena. Whether it’s just an individual physical challenge to run down the track faster than others or to work in concert with others to kick a ball into the opponent’s goal.

Unfortunately, many schools violate the rights of their disabled students to participate in these activities. The access to opportunities to play sports (or any other activity that is organized by an institution that receives funds from the federal government) is not part of special education law, but CIVIL RIGHTS law.

Many schools who are focused on creating a “winning culture” may overlook your child because of their disability. However, many disabilities have nothing to do with athletic competition and with a few minor accommodations, that the school must provide (even can be part of an IEP) can allow a child to help his school win a championship.

The big task is for the coaches to understand the law and to understand how to teach a child to play a game. A 6’7” autistic child may not know how to remember all the plays on a basketball team however, he can learn to get the rebounds and pass it to the point guard.

An individual with an intellectual disability, may be the fastest child in the school running a 100-yard dash. Yet, an accommodation may allow an assistant coach to stand behind the finish line in the lane to remind the student where to run.

If a child is not good at a sport or if the team is limited then the experience of trying out for a team and not making it is also the child’s right. An autistic boy tried out for a basketball team. He learned drills, shot layups, learned plays and played in scrimmages. However, he was not selected for the team. Yet, the student earned a lot of admiration from peers and was treated better in the hallways because of his efforts.

Another child played on a tennis team that did not have enough players to drop anyone. The player was able to participate and won some games however, her dyslexia prevented her from being able to keep up with the score. Consequently, a team manager was allowed to watch the game and keep the score for her.

Often the accommodations needed take only preplanning and understanding to allow students full participation in the activities of the school. Indeed, for some, the participation in sports (or other activity) help them to do the extra personal work to remain in school.

The schools in many states are already beginning spring sports programs. Obtain the information and make sure that your child is able to participate in extracurricular activities. _______________________________________________________________________ [If you need assistance obtaining an advocate or have a question about this information please place a question on this web site. I will make sure you receive an answer within 2 days of your post.]

This is a members group post. However, if you desire an individual response please send contact information with your post]. This information is provided for informational purposes. Each state has slightly different rules and therefore presented nformation is based on general special education and federal laws. This should not be considered as a provision of specific legal advice.]

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