Social Opportunities

Social experiences and recreation activities provide opportunities for improved physical, mental and spiritual well-being as well as improvements in physical functioning, independence, and self-esteem/self-image. Young children learn and master developmental milestones through social play. During the teenage years, structured social opportunities can provide a relatively-safe way for young adults to test boundaries, learn about themselves, and develop their self-identity. It is important for young adults to have and engage in social outlets in areas of their interests e.g. arts, crafts, dances, and recreational pursuits. However, many people with disabilities have difficulty engaging in social opportunities outside of the home. These activities can be an opportunity to develop social support networks with peers with and without disabilities.
If adapted equipment is needed for the individual to engage in an area of interest, consider a physical therapy or occupational therapy consult. In many circumstances, readily available athletic equipment and toys can be adapted by the individual (or their parents) to better serve his or her needs in a social setting.

Play Groups

For young children, play groups can provide opportunities for children to develop social skills, master developmental milestones, and meet new friends. Parents also have the opportunities to meet other parents and take a break from routines. For more information about play groups, see the Additional Early Services page.

Faith-Based Organizations

While many parents consider enrolling their children in faith-based classes, those organizations often offer social and recreational activities along with or in addition to the classes. For more information about opportunities provided by faith-based organizations, see the Spiritual Needs page.

School Sports and Clubs

Most schools offer some types of sports teams. They may include basketball, softball, baseball, swimming, track, soccer, golf, tennis, lacrosse, cheerleading, dance, football, and other sports. Participating in sports teams may satisfy physical education requirements, help with some medical conditions that benefit from physical activity, and provide after-school supervision. School clubs may include activities like chess, band, debate, academic subjects, and service clubs. Clubs often provide teacher supervision but may be less structured than sports teams. Both sports and clubs help children and youth develop social and team skills. They often encourage or require students to compete with other schools, providing opportunities for traveling and meeting new friends. These groups often require additional school fees, equipment, and time away from studying and family, and transportation arrangements. Some school activities allow a peer tutor to assist with members who have disabilities to participate.

Recreational Groups and Leagues

Cities, counties, and other community groups may offer inclusive or disability friendly sports leagues or activity groups. These may include softball, basketball, soccer, and other sports teams that compete against other community teams. They may also include hiking, crafts, and theater groups that arrange trips, teach new skills, and provide exposure to the arts. While some of these groups may be less formal than school organizations, there may still be additional costs, time, and travel requirements for the youth and family.

Volunteer Organizations

While many people think of faith-based organizations and school groups when they think of volunteer organizations, there are other community groups and businesses that offer youth the opportunity to serve others. Hospitals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and social organizations offer a variety of opportunities to meet new people and experience different occupational settings. A youth who wants to be a pilot could volunteer for the civil air patrol while a youth who wants to be a doctor could volunteer in a hospital. Youth can volunteer to help build houses, plant trees, deliver meals, provide disaster relief, assist with local emergency services, help with fundraising, participate in parades, help with theater groups, or other activities. The amount of structure varies from very little supervision to unpaid-employee status. There may be strict schedules and time requirements or schedules may vary based on local emergencies.

Employment Opportunities

While employment may be considered work or a way to get a paycheck, jobs also provide social opportunities. Fellow employees become friends and some employers offer benefits such as sport teams, picnics, discounts at local events, and travel opportunities. For more information, see the Employment/Daytime Activities page.


Information & Support

For Parents and Patients

Best Buddies
Best Buddies® creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Miracle League Adaptive Youth Baseball
The Miracle League provides opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball, regardless of their abilities. Presently there are over 300 Miracle League Organizations around the world including Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.

National Ability Center
The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. The NAC provides scholarships to 100% of those who request them, and keeps program fees affordable. Located in Park City, Utah.

National Organization on Disability (NOD)
NOD encourages people with disabilities to participate in all aspects of life and offers a variety of programs related to emergency preparedness, employment, accessibility, and more.

AAPD Interfaith Initiative
Provides resources for families and church congregations to support people with disabilities in worship by teaching how to create inclusive religious settings and advocacy for all who wish to have access to church.

Services in Rhode Island

Select services for a different state: ID, MT, NM, NV, UT

After School Programs

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Camps for Children with Special Needs

We currently have no Camps for Children with Special Needs service providers listed; search our Services database for related services.

Community Service Opportunities

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Disability Related Employment Programs

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Disability Related Sports

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Ethnic, Religious, Cultural Support

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Recreational Activities/Sports

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Recreational/Leisure/Arts Instruction

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School Districts

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Social & Recreational Opportunities

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Youth Development

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For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.

Authors & Reviewers

Last update/revision: October 2013; initial publication: September 2013
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Alfred N. Romeo, RN, PhD