This post highlights important tips for children with Turner Syndrome (TS) interested in sports and other activities. This information is based on a recent webinar on the Cognitive Impact of TS, hosted by the Turner Syndrome Foundation (TSF) and presented by Ilyse O’Desky, PsyD.
Note: The information in this post is educational and is not meant to replace medical advice from your doctor(s). Always consult with a medical professional regarding any specific health concerns.
Benefits of Sports and Other Activities for Children with TS
Children with TS often have subtle behavioral difficulties, including nonverbal skills, attention deficiency, spatial understanding, social anxiety, slowed response time, and social withdrawal, among others. However, there are many physical activities that these children can do to develop important cognitive skills, learn how to work with others, increase their self-esteem, and improve their overall health.
Challenges for Children with TS
One of the common challenges for individuals with TS is spatial processing. This can make sports in which a 360-degree field of vision is required, such as soccer or lacrosse, difficult. Swimming, running, and fencing, in which the field is directly in front of the child, can help with this challenge. Some activities can be changed to make them a better fit for a child with TS. For example, a child who plays soccer could play goalie, since they would be able to focus on what is in front of them. In addition, there are programs such as Special Olympics that provide opportunities in a variety of sports for children with cognitive difficulties.
Guiding Your Child in Sports and Other Activities
It is important that caregivers approach their children with encouragement regarding sports or other activities. They should guide them towards activities in which they can succeed and have fun. Dr. O’Desky suggested that pursuing sports that can be continued into adulthood can help to maintain physical activity as part of their lifelong routine.
It is also important that the child get a complete physical exam to ensure that they are healthy enough to take part in the desired activity. The coach or caregiver also needs to be aware of the child’s difficulties so that they can provide proper guidance and work with the child to provide a safe, encouraging, and healthy experience.
Recommended Sports and Activities for Children with TS
- Dancing has a very positive effect on a child’s cognitive development. It not only builds energy and spirit in the child but also increases confidence, memory, social skills, and spontaneity.
- Karate is great because it includes self-expression and challenging oneself. It helps improve balance, coordination, concentration, and consistency.
- Gymnastics is a good option, as it helps develop confidence, social and motor skills, and self-esteem.
- Biking also improves balance, concentration, and confidence. Individuals with TS sometimes struggle to develop biking skills, but Dr. O’Desky says that many can do it.
- Swimming provides emotional freedom and builds core strength, improving equilibrium and coordination.
- Running helps boost both physical and emotional health.
- Therapeutic horse riding can improve flexibility, balance, and muscle strength and provides a sense of both freedom and control.
While the above is not an exhaustive list of sports and activities that can be great for children with TS, we hope it helps to set your child up for success. Keep in mind that every child is unique in their skills and interests, and that’s what makes them special.
Click below to view Dr. O’Desky’s webinar and learn more about the cognitive impact of TS and more practical tips.
Written by Dhruvi Patel, TSF volunteer blog writer, and edited by Susan Herman, volunteer blog post editor.