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Recreation can help teens with needs transition to community life

Students with disabilities have the legal right to a free, public and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment from age 3 to 21. They also have the right to individualized planning, including transition services. However, even with these services in place, many parents worry about what their teens with disabilities will do when they graduate from school and transition to community life.

Becoming involved in the community is a positive way to learn social and recreational skills for a healthy lifestyle. This article provides parents with strategies on collaborating with general and adapted physical educators to promote an appropriate transition process to the community through physical activity, recreation and sports.


Do collaborate frequently

Collaboration is the key to success when dealing with transitioning from school to the community. Open communication between each person involved in the process is critical. General and adapted physical educators are specialists when it comes to assessing a student’s level of performance and progress regarding recreation and sport skills. Be sure to collaborate with these educators to create an appropriate transition process for your child related to recreation, physical activity and positive ways to use leisure time.

Do search for community programs geared toward physical activity and recreation

Getting involved in the community is an effective way to become part of society. It is also an important avenue to learning social and recreational skills for a healthy lifestyle and community integration. Most communities offer programs geared specifically toward participants with disabilities, as well as inclusive programs. Students can enjoy these programs for a long time, which increases the probability of integration into their community.

Do periodically assess your child’s level of performance and progress

To ensure that your child is learning and progressing, it is imperative that you take periodic assessments. Additionally, periodic assessment can provide you with information about areas of improvement and the adaptations needed to advocate for your child’s progress.

Do use a self-determination focus when selecting activities

A student’s interests must be taken into consideration when creating an effective transition plan. Studies in special education and instruction demonstrate that when the interests of students with disabilities are taken into consideration, there is a greater likelihood that students will reach their goals. This also helps students to become happier and enjoy what they are doing, which increases their self-esteem.


Do not overprotect your children

Some parents raising youth with disabilities overprotect their children because they believe their children do not have the ability to overcome social situations. Additionally, some parents fear that others will mistreat their kids. However, it is important for parents to understand that the only way their children will learn to be active and independent individuals is by trying new things and interacting with others.

Do not limit your children’s participation in the community

It is not uncommon for parents to forget to give children what they really need. Be sure to set aside dedicated time to spend with your children. Take this time to provide opportunities for them to interact in society. Do not limit your children by staying home and only taking part in home-related activities.

Do not assume your children will enjoy the same activities as you

Take into consideration the activities your kids enjoy when planning for a transition to the community. This does not necessarily mean that the transition will be easier, but it will help kids to become happier individuals. The main goal of a successful transition process is to advocate for your child’s integration into the community.

Do not overlook the research

Research has demonstrated the numerous benefits that physical activity and recreation have on individuals with disabilities. These benefits focus on the three domains of learning--psychomotor (skills), cognitive (knowledge) and the affective domain (attitude or self). Based on this research, it is vital to use physical activity and recreation as a tool for effective transition to the community.

Jumping cartoon

For individuals with disabilities, collaboration is the key to success when it comes to transitioning from school to community life. Focus your efforts on developing appropriate social, interpersonal and recreation skills. These skills will contribute tremendously to your child’s development and integration into the community.

More expert advice about Caring for Teens and Adults with Disabilities

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Amaury Samalot - Rivera, Ph.D.Assistant Professor in General and Adapted Physical Education

· Assistant Professor at State University of New York at Brockport in the Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education Department · PhD in General and Adapted Physical Education from The Ohio State University · Taught for...

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