No two people with a disability are the same. The same disability can affect people in different ways. This can make it difficult and confusing for the leader to prepare him or her self to work with participants. Developing a broad understanding of a disability and how it may affect an individual will assist leaders. Learning how an individual is affected by their disability will provide a broader understanding of what their needs may be. This learning can be obtained by meeting with the participant and their parents/caregivers, before the program. This information will be invaluable but must be treated as confidential.

Disabilities can be grouped into three areas:

  • Physical disability including sensory disability;
  • Intellectual disability; or
  • Mental Illness.

It is important to also note that people may have more than one disability and there is a section in this resource kit devoted to multiple disabilities.

Individuals may also experience limitations while participating in sport and active recreation programs due to a medical condition, and a number of the more common ones are discussed in this resource kit.

Physical disabilities vary greatly and can affect people differently. Some participants are very accepting of their disability. They acknowledge their limitations and participate to their fullest ability. Others are more self-conscious of their disability and may be reluctant to participate in some activities. These participants may need a lot of encouragement from leaders and other participants and also the opportunity to explore their potential ability in contrast to their limitations.

Sport and active recreation provides a great opportunity for them to do this in a safe and reinforcing environment. Be aware of participants who may have a reduced insight into their limitations, because they will need to be assisted to become aware of these limitations for their own safety.

The following sections outline the more common types of disabilities and conditions. These have been grouped according to:

  1. Physical disabilities;
  2. Intellectual disabilities;
  3. Mental illness;
  4. Autism spectrum Disorders;
  5. Multiple disabilities;
  6. Medical Conditions;
  7. Challenging Behaviours;
  8. Communication Issues; and
  9. Personal Care.

For each disability type, a brief description of the disability, issues to consider when programming sport and active recreation activities, strategies for inclusion and a discussion of behaviour management issues is provided.