Nothing compares to being a part of a team. It builds friendships, confidence, problem solving, and teamwork. Everyone should have the opportunity to be able to be a part of a team.
But until recently, children with significant disabilities could not be a part of a true competitive cheer team. The schedule is rigorous. The stunts are dangerous. The skills are difficult.
My daughter tried a competitive cheer team, but this was one time when inclusion at this level just didn’t work for her. It was dangerous for her to be part of doing such difficult and dangerous stunts. Her physical disabilities and limitations made it impossible for her to safely participate as part of the team. It became clear that for her to experience the thrill of the cheer competition and be a real part of the stunts and of the routine, we would need a team geared more to her level.
Enter cheer teams for athletes with disabilities! There are several cheer teams in the area. Each gym has a little different idea of exactly what the team should look like. Each one has a different level of inclusion and a different level of skill and routine. But each team is similar in that children and teens (and sometimes adults) with a disability are invited to be true members of the cheer team.
Teams geared especially for individuals with a disability offer a chance to perform at huge cheer competitions several times during the cheer season. And there is nothing quite like a cheer competition! It is loud. It is crazy. It is filled with energy. And every cheerleader wears a cheer uniform and cheers with his/her team with all their heart.
Most gyms organize the team with cheerleaders from their other competitive teams, usually one-on-one with the athletes with disabilities. The athletes are supported however they need it. And the athletes grow in skill and ability.
Cheerleading is my daughter’s passion, and we’ve been thrilled to find such a great fit for her. If you have a child who wants to be a cheerleader, check out local cheer or gymnastics gyms to ask about a team that includes athletes with disabilities.
For more information, view Episode one of “INCLUDED: Special Needs Cheer Teams.” Here are a few more gymnastics and cheer groups on this website: Spirit Xtreme Rejoice! – Special Needs Team, Super Kids, and Special Needs Gymnastics. For more options, check out our page on Find Services by County.
One mom discusses her frustration when people don’t listen to her daughter who uses a communication device.
When you have a child(ren) with a disability label, it seems far too often the focus is on the label, not the child. Create an introduction portfolio that tells your child’s story about who they are. And read it at every Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. Here’s how.