Lack of Appropriate Leisure
84% of disabled children in the UK can’t access regular leisure facilities (Contact a Family 2014).
92% of parents feel that their child with complex needs did not have the same opportunities to play as their non-disabled peers (SENSE – A case for Play 2016).
In Bristol 84% of parents said there was a lack of leisure facilities for their disabled child.
95% of parents interviewed in Bristol want access to an exclusive setting with required equipment and support to be able to play with their children (Incredible Kids, 2011).
65% of parents with children with disabilities report feeling isolated frequently or all of the time and 72% of these families experience mental ill health (Contact a family, 2011).
In Bristol 44% of parents reported feeling isolated and want to meet other parents of disabled children, and of those 71% found this a severe to extreme problem in their lives (Gympanzees Research 2016).
51% felt it was important for their child to meet others with SEN (Gympanzees market research 2016).
The Health Dilemma
Disabled children are ½ as likely to be active than their non-disabled peers.
Children with disabilities are double as likely to be obese than non-disabled children.
Inactivity has been shown to be as ‘deadly’ as smoking (Lancet 2012). It is well known to have a negative effect on health and well-being – leading to
- Reduced life expectancy from conditions such as stroke and diabetes,
- Heart and lung disease,
- Sleep problems
- Certain cancers
- Osteoarthritis etc
Children with ADHD and Autism often have specific exercise needs. If they are not able to access the appropriate activities, they will find it harder to control their challenging behaviours, struggle with concentration and with coping with their daily lives.
Children with physical disabilities generally start experiencing pain and a reduction in their function and ability to be independent in their early 20’s due to the strain on their muscles and joints which could be alleviated through appropriate strengthening.
Appropriate input, as advised by a physiotherapist, can help to reduce this chronic pain and improve physical independence. Input from an Occupational Therapist can provide appropriate movement to enable children with ADHD and Autism to function better. With the strain on the NHS, services are reducing and parents are often left without the support or input they need. While some families can turn to private therapists, most cannot and the opportunity for the required exercise in the community is slim, if available at all.