Tip #3: Provide Opportunities For Your Child To Play Sports

Sports may not be the first word that pops into your head when thinking of extra-curricular activities for a child with vision loss.  While some traditional childhood sports like baseball and soccer may not be options for children with low vision, that does not mean they want to sit on the sidelines.

From an early age, I learned that many sports were not fun for me.  I would imagine myself hitting a homerun in softball, or catching the flying ball in kick ball, but it never played out that way in reality.  Sports represented scary flying balls seemingly coming out of nowhere and hitting me in the face, or tiny elusive hockey pucks skating out of my limited field of vision.

I now know that sports can be so much more than scary flying balls.

In fact, I recently learned that there is even a ball-sport for blind people.  It’s called Goalball,,and it was created for World War II veterans who had lost vision, but still longed to play sports like soccer.  There are 3 players on each team, and they use a ball about the size of a basketball.  Players use their hearing to track the ball, which has bells inside it.  There are goalball teams for all ages, and it’s a great way to create fun family memories while being active.

If you’re able to find a goalball team in your area, try signing the whole family up! Your child will likely enjoy the opportunity to compete with others on an even playing field because all players wear blindfolds during the game.

Rather than having athletic events be an area where your child feels inept and excluded, try encouraging athletic opportunities that build confidence and promote lifelong skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship.

Depending on your child’s level of competitiveness, the sport they choose could take them all the way to the Paralympics!

The Blind/Visually Impaired paralympic sports include cycling, equestrian, goalball, judo, paratriathlon, rowing, sailing, swimming, track & field, alpine skiing, biathlon, and cross country skiing.

Whether the sport your child tries becomes a casual hobby, or a passionate goal leading to international competition, participation in sports will build character and promote healthy life skills.

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Sports: Advice for Parenting Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Tip #3

  1. As the parent of a totally blind kid, I’ve realized how very important sports and exercise are for her. They are important for every kid, but especially blind kids. Often blind kids move slowly or stay sedentary because sighted people want them to “stay safe.” This lack of normal exercise, coupled with a lack of light perception, can really cause problems with a blind child’s sleep cycle.

    I’ve found that if my daughter gets as much movement and exercise as a sighted seven-year-old, she tends to sleep as well as a sighted seven-year-old. It can be playing on the trampoline, walking, running, bicycling, swinging, sliding, swinging, climbing trees, hiking etc.

    This blog post is so right on!

    • You bring up several good points here. The “safety” issue is interesting. I think a lot of sighted people underestimate the abilities of children (and adults) with vision loss. It is amazing how we are able to use our other senses to safely participate in so many sports, such as the ones you listed that your daughter enjoys.

      The sleep issue you mentioned is also fascinating to me. I don’t think I had ever thought much about how light perception and lack of exercise can hinder sleep, but that makes a lot of sense. I know that when my children have outdoor playtime, they sleep much better, and that must have a lot to do with the level of activity that is possible when playing outdoors vs. indoors.

      I’m curious to know if your daughter enjoys any team sports?

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