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Disabilities And Special Needs



Published in Health & Medicine
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  • Knowing that they are a person first and the disability is something they have, not who they are
  • TypesSpasticity refers to the muscle tissues being very stiff, and people with spastic cerebral palsy often have difficulty walking or movingAthetoid – type of movement disorder that results in uncontrolled movements and ticsAtaxic – tend to be off balance and have difficulty sensing depth
  • Predominantly hyperactive – impulsive: running around and can’t sit in one place (fidgets a lot)Predominantly inattentive – hard to follow instructions and tends to avoid tasks that involve mental effort, very forgetfulCombined – both types combined, most common among childrenA person with ADD or ADHD has a brain which is slightly different when it comes to the section that controls attention and because they are wired differently, they find it hard to focus on anything for any length of time. Very often, this tends to correct itself as the child grows older but in some cases, it continues through to adulthood and this could result in the person feeling out of synch with the rest of the world.
  • Be aware that it is not the child’s fault, it is a brain defectBe patient with the childMedications for ADD/ ADHD can help alleviate the symptoms of distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. However, medication doesn’t cure ADD/ADHD. It can relieve symptoms while its being taken, but once medication stops, those symptoms come back. Also, ADD/ADHD medication works better for some than for others. Some people experience dramatic improvement while others experience only moderate gains.
  • Trisomy 21 - 95% of people with Down Syndrome), extra 21st chromosome in each cellTranslocation - during cell division, a part of the number 21 chromosome breaks off and attaches itself to another chromosome, usually the number 14 chromosomeMosaicism - faulty cell division occurs in one of the early cell divisions after conception, resulting in some cells having 46 chromosomes and some having 47Newborns with Down Syndrome look like newborns that do not have Down Syndrome
  • Milder form known as Asperger syndromeThe rare condition called Rett syndromeChildren with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people  They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behaviour  They lack empathy,Repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behaviour such as biting or head-bangingThey also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.”  Children with ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. 
  • Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names and often avoid eye contact with other people  They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behaviourRepetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behaviour such as biting or head-bangingThey also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me.”  Children with ASD don’t know how to play interactively with other children. 
  • behavioural interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement.  The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that meet the specific needs of individual children.  Most health care professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better


  • 1. Disabilities , Impairments and special needs
    A teachers guide to
  • 2. Definitions
    Disability – the interaction between impairment and externally imposed restrictions (World Health Organization)
    Impairment – exists “when a person has physical, sensory, or intellectual conditions that potentially limits full participation in social and/or physical environments” (Coakley & Donnelly, Sport In Society, p.44)
  • 3. Definitions
    Impairment becomes a disability when “accommodation in social or physical contexts are not or cannot be made to allow the full participation of people with functional limitations.” (Coakley & Donnelly, Sport in Society, p. 44)
  • 4. Definitions
    Handicapped – when others define a person as inferior and “unable” due to perceived impairments
    Ableism – “exclusionary practices that fail to take disability into account, particularly the failure to make sport and recreation programs and facilities fully accessible.” (Lenskyj, Canadian Sport Sociology, 101)
  • 5. Person First Terminology
    Person before disability
    “The boy with down syndrome” as opposed to
    “The down syndrome boy”
  • 6. Physical Disabilities
  • 7. Cerebral Palsy
    “Characterized by an inability to fully control motor function, particularly muscle control and coordination”
    ‘Cerebral’ – brain
    ‘Palsy’ – problems with movement and posture, or motor control impairment
    Cerebral Palsy Source
  • 8. Cerebral Palsy
    Muscle tightness or spasticity, involuntary movement, disturbance in gait or mobility, difficulty swallowing and problems with speech
    3 types: Spastic, Athetoid, and Ataxic
    Tests & prenatal care
    Cerebral Palsy Source
  • 9. Cerebral Palsy
    70 % of cases in children are congenital, or present at birth
    No cure
    Physical therapy
    Speech and language therapy
    Occupational therapy
    Drug therapy
    Surgical procedures
    Cerebral Palsy Source
  • 10. Team Hoyt
  • 11. Learning Disabilities
  • 12. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    “a condition where the person suffering from it is below the accepted norm when it comes to being able to sit still, pay attention and focus on the task at hand”
    3 sub-types
    Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
    Predominantly inattentive
    Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
  • 13. ADHD
    10 % of children are affected
    Boys are more prone to ADHD than girls
    Treatment options:
    Behaviour therapy
    Support groups
    Social skills training
    Educational support
    Professional coaching
  • 14. Down Syndrome
    Each normal cell in the human body has 23 pairs of chromosomes
    In a person with Down Syndrome, there are 3 chromosomes on the 21st pair (instead of 2)
    Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • 15. Down Syndrome
    Persons with Down Syndrome may be predisposed to certain illnesses and medical conditions
    Down syndrome commonly results in an effect on learning style, although the differences are highly variable and individualistic
    People with Down Syndrome usually have mild to moderate intellectual delay
    Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • 16. Down Syndrome
    Types of chromosomal patterns that result in Down Syndrome
    Trisomy 21(95%)
    Translocation (2-3%)
    Mosaicism (2%)
    Physical characteristics (babies)
    Chubby cheeks, large, round eyes, larger tongue, smaller limbs, and smaller body frame
    Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • 17. Down Syndrome
    Health Concerns
    Congenital malformations of the heart (more than 40%)
    Hearing loss (as a result of frequent ear infections)
    Vision problems
    Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • 18. Intellectual Disabilities
  • 19. Autism
    “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour”
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • 20. Autism
    Males are more likely than females to have ASD
    Estimated that 3 of 6 children of every 1,000 will have ASD
    ASD varies significantly in character and severity
    Other forms of Autism:
    Asperger Syndrome
    Rett Syndrome
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • 21. Autism
    Impaired social interaction
    Exclusion of others for long periods of time
    Withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement
    Lacks empathy
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • 22. Autism
    ~20 – 30% of children with ASD develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood
    (For most children) Symptoms improve with age
    There is no cure for ASD
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • 23. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
    “Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol effects (FAE) are conditions associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy. FAS causes a variety of mental, physical, and developmental disabilities in the baby.”
    FAE is a milder form of FAS
    Body and Health Canada
  • 24. FAS
    Alcohol damages the developing cells of the fetus
    The brain and nervous system are particularly sensitive to alcohol and can suffer permanent damage
    There is no safe amount of alcohol consumption during pregnancy
    There is no way to reverse the damage of prenatal alcohol exposure
    Body and Health Canada
  • 25. FAS
    Signs of central nervous system abnormalities:
    Delayed development, behavioural patterns, learning disabilities, intellectual impairment
    Typical facial malformations features:
    Short eye slits or dropping eyes, a thin upper lip, flattened cheekbones, absence of a distinct groove between the upper lip and nose
    Children with FAS are often naive, have poor decision-making skills and judgement
    E.g. substance abuse and other difficulties later in life
    Body and Health Canada
  • 26. Sensory Impairments
  • 27. Hearing Impaired
    “Hearing impairment occurs when there’s a problem with or damage to one or more parts of the ear”
  • 28. Hearing Impaired
    Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)- too much exposure to loud noise
    Types of hearing loss
    Conductive hearing loss- problem with outer or middle ear (including the eardrum or ossicles)
    Sensorineural hearing loss- damage to the inner ear(cochlea) or the auditory nerve
    Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder- transmission of sound from the inner ear to the brain is then disorganized
  • 29. Hearing Impaired
    Congenital hearing loss- when hearing loss is present at birth
    Acquired hearing loss- when hearing loss occurs later in life
    ~28 million Americans are deaf or hearing impaired (which equals out to ~1 of 10 people)
    Hearing loss is most common at birth
  • 30. Vision Impaired
    Vision loss can be caused by eye problems present from birth, by conditions that appear later in life, or by infections or environmental factors
    Blind – persons with no usable sight
    Visual Impaired – refers to persons who have partial sight
    Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • 31. Vision Impaired
    Guidelines for Interacting with a person who is blind
    Introduce yourself immediately
    Shake hands to accompany a greeting in place of a smile that usually accompanies a greeting
    Speak directly to the person who is blind. Don’t look away. Use explicit verbal instructions.
    Offer your arm when walking with a person who is blind. Do not “push” them around
    When you leave a person who is blind, it is important to let them know
    When others enter or leave the room, use their names so that the person who is blind can keep track of who is in the room
    Provide an orientation of the environment describing the location of landmarks
    The most important things to remember are to be genuinely kind and respectful. This will facilitate a successful relationship
    Mini U Instructors Manual 2008
  • 32. Vision Impaired
    Eye injuries in sport
    Research shows that 90% of all eye injuries in sports are preventable
    The most common eye injuries associated with sports are:
    Corneal abrasions (scrapes and cuts)
    Injuries from a blunt object (such as the impact of ball or puck)
    Penetrating objects (such as from a plastic or wood splinter)
    Children under the age of 12 are especially at high risk because they are still developing their visual perception, making it easy for a child to misjudge the speed or distance of a ball or puck
    Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • 33. Vision Impaired
    High Risk Sports:
    Shooting sports that involve an air rifle or BB gun, baseball, basketball, boxing, cricket, fencing, hockey, lacrosse, full-contact martial arts, paintball, racquetball, softball, squash, badminton
    Moderate Risk Sports:
    Fishing, football, golf, soccer, tennis, volleyball
    Low Risk Sports:
    Bicycling, diving, non-contact martial arts, skiing (snow and water), swimming, wrestling, track & field, gymnastics
    Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • 34. Goalball
    Paralympic Sport played exclusively by athletes who are blind or visually impaired.
    All players wear eyeshades so everyone is on an even playing field, and cannot see anything regardless of their degree of visual impairment.
    All of the lines of the court are applied by taping cords to the floor.  This creates tactile markings which the players can feel with their hands and feet to orient themselves on the court
    Canadian Blind Sports Association
  • 35. Goalball
    The game is played by “throwing” a ball back and forth (bowling motion.) 
    Has bells inside the ball
    The players track the ball by listening for the sound of the bells and work together to block the net. 
    The object of the game is to get the ball past the other team to score in their net.
    Canadian Blind Sports Association
  • 36. Class Activity
    Cat and Mouse
    Form a circle on the floor with the group (everyone sitting down)
    2 volunteers, 1 cat and 1 mouse(both blindfolded)
    Objective: the cat is trying to tag the mouse (in the middle of the circle). Because both individuals are blindfolded, they must listen and respond to auditory cues from the group
    Cues: when the cat is near the mouse, the group claps fast and loud. If the cat or mouse is far away from the other, the group claps slowly and softly
    Safety: the cat and mouse must crawl at all times. If the cat or the mouse are headed outside the circle, group members must gently direct them back inside
  • 37. “Invisible” Disabilities
  • 38. Cystic Fibrosis
    Genetic disorder
    Occurs when a child inherits two defective copies of the gene responsible for CF (one from each parent)
    1 in 25 Canadians is a CF carrier
    1 in 3600 children born in Canada has CF
    No known cure
    Predicted life span ~ 37 years old
    Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • 39. Cystic Fibrosis
    Signs and Symptoms
    Difficulty breathing
    Constant cough which brings up thick mucus
    Excessive appetite, with weight loss
    Bowel disturbances, such as intestinal obstruction or frequent, oily stools
    Skin which tastes salty
    Repeated or prolonged bouts of pneumonia
    Failure to thrive
    Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • 40. Cystic Fibrosis
    Class activity
    Breathing exercise
  • 41. Including students with special needs
    Get to know the student
    Be knowledgeable about their disability
    Know the students’ physical, mental, social, and emotional limitations
    Choose activities that can be altered or changed to accommodate all students
    Educate all students to be respectful and have a basic understanding of students with special needs
  • 42. References
    Dr. Sarah Teetzel, PERS 3460 Sociology of Physical Activity and Leisure , class notes, November 16, 2009
    Mini U Instructors Manual 2008