Tennis, Olympics, football season, even sports day at school. We avoid every one of them!

We drive the kids around by car, we rarely eat five a day, and I am pretty sure none of us drink enough water. Health is a definite priority but fitness isn't.

Here are the four reasons we ALL avoid sport as a special needs family:

      1. The selection process

My children have more than enough self esteem issues and disabilities without the embarrassment of no-one picking them for a team. My daughter knows full well that she cannot jump, or skip, or even run. She is well aware of her poor balance, gross developmental delay and co-ordination difficulties. We do not need sporting events of any kind to remind her of this.

Who wants her brother in a team when he has no understanding of what is happening and is unable to follow even the most basic of instructions? 

We don't need the stress of seeing them not be selected so we just avoid it.

  1. The competition element

No matter how many times you try and instil in children that it is the taking part that counts and not the winning, you can never take away from the competition element of sport. Children understand from a young age that winners are the ones that count. They know the football team with the highest score is the one people cheer for. Their friends at school boast of coming first or receiving medals even at less traditional sports like dancing. They see on TV that people win at the Olympics and Tennis and they realise that life and sport are about competition and once again they feel like the bottom of the pile. I am not being harsh when I say neither of my children will likely win a race of any sort. 

Yes, life will always be to some degree a competition. Adults compete for jobs, or houses, or even to see who has the best car. I cannot avoid that. But do they need to face competition at sport when it is already known they will not be the winner? What parent would willingly set their child up for failure? 

We don't need the heartache of seeing them lose so we just avoid it.

  1. The sensory overload 

Stadiums are bright, noisy, echoey places that cause both my children so much stress. Football crowds are noisy, excited, overly colourful, and unpredictable (one minute they cheer the next they boo). There is music and microphones booming. There are laughter and roars. There is so much going on, their anxiety is at boiling point. We avoid crowds and noise and unpredictability all the time as these are major triggers for panic attacks and seizures. We have enough of these without deliberately bringing more on. We live near a football stadium and a horse racing track. When big events are on we leave town to quiet and safe places. 

We don't need the pressure of seeing my children upset so we just avoid these things.

  1. The unpredictability

Life is full of change, something both my children find incredibly difficult to process. If I took them to see a sporting event and my daughter cheered on someone in pink who subsequently lost, she would be traumatised. She likes to know ahead of time what is going to happen, and this is totally impossible in sport. The distress of the unpredictability of it all would last weeks, possibly months and is not worth it. She also cannot understand that someone can be very skilled at something like tennis, but still lose. It is confusing and frustrating for her. 

We don't need the upset so we just avoid it all.

We don't even have a trampoline for the kids. What is the point when they cannot jump anyway? I take them swimming, we walk and we eat well. We are as healthy as we can be, considering their significant disabilities. We don't follow any teams and we have no idea of current sporting events. 

We are happy, and for us it really is ok to avoid sports. It isn't for everyone but for our special needs family it is right for us.

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