This book is a welcome addition to the field of adapted physical education and youth sports. Although there are many books on youth sports and many others on adapted physical education, this is one of the few books in which the author attempts to combine these two areas to provide concrete information on how to include children with disabilities into youth sports. The book is divided into two sections.
The first section provides an overview and rationale for including children with disabilities in youth sports. Chapters in this section include information on the benefits of youth sports, barriers to participation in youth sport by children with disabilities, theories related to coaching and what makes a good coach, and attitudes of teammates. Information is current and the author includes appropriate references to support key points. In addition, Barber provides wonderful stories about his experiences working with children with disabilities as well as with parents and coaches in youth sports settings.
The second section of the book is focused on more specific information about coaching children with particular types of disabilities, such as physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and sensory impairments. Chapters on sports for children with Tourette syndrome and height/weight challenges (including obesity) are not often presented in these types of texts, despite being so important for coaches and parents. The section begins with teaching and organizational tips for coaches. These two chapters provide excellent information for coaches on how to accommodate children with disabilities in general terms, such as using the theory of multiple intelligence to design teaching strategies, differentiating between practice and games, providing feedback in learning and coaching, and using assessment techniques. These chapters are very practical and easily accessible by coaches and parents—particularly the last several pages that present teaching tips when things go well (how to provide praise and feedback) and when things do not go well.
In the next several chapters in this section, Barber focuses on providing brief definitions and descriptions of children with specific types of disabilities and special accommodation for them. Each chapter concludes with a checklist composed of four categories: assessment, designing a safe learning environment, coaching techniques, and differential strategies. Some chapters are quite brief whereas others provide a great deal of information. For example, the chapter “Sports for Young Athletes With Physical Disabilities and Coordination and Mobility Challenges” is very brief, with only a paragraph on coaching considerations for children with cerebral palsy or amputations. Also, the information about wheelchair users focuses on choosing the right sport setting (wheelchair sports or inclusive sports) rather than ways to accommodate a child who uses a wheelchair. On the other hand, the chapter “Sports for Young Athletes With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder” is much more detailed and provides more practical information on how to coach these children. Also, although the information in this section of the book is very practical, more examples would have been helpful for coaches and parents to see how the suggested techniques can be implemented. This section concludes with a very nice chapter on how to address anxiety, stress, and social confidence, which no doubt are problems for many children with disabilities trying to participate in regular youth sports programs.
In summary, this is an excellent resource for parents and coaches who want to include children with various types of disabilities into youth sports programs. The information is practical, nicely organized, and will help both parents and coaches create more successful and meaningful youth sports experiences for children with disabilities.