It’s important for children with special needs to get involved in activities outside their school studies in order to grow, develop, and expand their worlds. In the past, extracurricular activities that are appropriate for children with special needs have been lacking in many school districts throughout the country. However, in recent years, children who have special needs are beginning to get the attention they deserve when it comes to appropriate activities that are suitable for their diagnoses, as well as for individual interests. Many elementary school teachers have made it a mission to bring to the forefront of education the fact that children with special needs must be able to join in extracurricular activities along with other children, and those activities need to be appropriate not only for their conditions but for their strengths and interests as well. This is why there are laws today that help children with special needs to activities.
Children who have special needs all have special gifts and talents to bring to the table, and they have a right to participate in extracurricular activities. Activities such as sports, music, theater, and various special-interest clubs help children with special needs to develop their particular individual skills. They also help them to learn, develop, and hone new skills. Another very vital part of participating in extracurricular activities is the ability to develop a healthy self-esteem, especially when it comes to learning to communicate and interact with peer groups.
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, it can be very helpful to both you and your child for you to learn a little about the law and your child’s right to participate in some of the extracurricular activities of his choice. Federal laws have been established that require public schools to provide students with special needs equal opportunity when it comes to their participation in extracurricular activities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states the following: No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705(20) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service. Additionally, there are other regulations within the Americans with Disabilities Act that public entities such as schools that further strengthen the rights of children who have special needs to participate in these activities.
If you are the parent of a child who has a disability or special needs who wishes to participate in a particular extracurricular activity, or is seeking extracurricular activities that may interest him, it’s important that you find out as much as you can about the rights of your child in your area and your school district in order to afford your child the opportunity to get involved. Additionally, if you’re the parent of a child with special needs who has been unable to participate in an extracurricular activity, your child may be the victim of discrimination due to his or her special needs. Find an advocate in your area who specializes in such cases, someone who can help your child stand up in order to enable her to begin participating in the extracurricular activity of her choice. Children with special needs have the same right as other children, and it’s vital that they are able to participate in activities outside school.
Children who have special needs also have special talents, special interests, and special abilities, just like all children do. And that’s why they need extracurricular activities that will help them to grow and develop effectively. Activities outside school such as sports, clubs, student government, music, and theater help children to develop their interests and talents, and they help them to learn important concepts such as teamwork and fair play. They can also help them to keep fit and remain active and healthy for years to come. Elementary school teachers have been fundamental in our country in bringing the appropriate attention to the fact that children with special needs must be included in extracurricular activities.