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Points of view of the adults as regards the benefits of practising different motor activities by down's syndrome patients.


The social dimension of physical activities is well known. Any social activity by the medium of which one interacts with another could become a mean which contributes to the shaping of one's personality, to regaining one's health, to the normal development of the body a.o.

Physical activities allow an individual to know themselves, to better realise his qualities and skills in comparison to the others.

The benefits gained physically, mentally, but also dynamically can be noticed and also extend themselves over the "social group to which the individual belongs" (Epuran, 2013).

However, if the person suffers from retardation, the awareness of their own qualities will be limited. In support of these people can physical activities help through their endless varieties of movement which highlight the qualities of the individual, helps them understand themselves and compare themselves with others.

Moreover, by the medium of the practice of different sport brances, the disabled person gives their family members the opportunity to better know them, discover their skills and to externalize.

Physical activities are an instrument which aids disabled people integrate easier in society, they are means which help them "diverge from the major problems of life, helps them disconnect inner life from reality" (Georgescu, 1999).

In this context the goal of this paper is to detect the benefits for Down's syndrome patients of practicing different physical activities as noticed by the parents or social assistants who take care of the patients.

These benefits are not limited to a physical level, the disabled person is perceived as a biopsychosocial being.


This paper is based on a questionnaire which we elaborated using other questionnaires addressed not only to disabled people but also to the adults who take care of them.

The questionnaire consists out of 26 questions which wanted to highlight the parents'/ social assistants' perception regarding the benefits for children and teenagers with Down's syndrome of practicing different sports.

At the same time, we wanted to mark out the manner in which parents/ social assistants are willing to help their children/ teenagers who suffer from Down's syndrom and their perception regarding the aid which, by means of practice of different sport activities, helped them on the children's path to social inclusion.

The questionnaire was filled by 140 parents/social assistants from all across the country by the medium of NGOs which steer their activities towards children and young adults who suffer from Down's syndrome. We also mention that throughout the paper we have used the terms of parents or adults to designate the parents or social assistants who filled our questionnaire.

The acquired answers are here to replenish the studies made within the, "The benefits of practicing swimming for children with Down's syndrome" project which was held for a 16 month period.


After analyzing the questionnaires we reached the following results:

--140 people answered the questions of the questionnaire. These people were related to the children/young adults, patients of Down's syndrome as shown in table 1.

This piece of information helped us identify how well the questioned adults knew tha patients --from the answers of the adults we found out that 99 children with Down's syndrome were involved in practicing some kinds of sports, 33 of them weren't regularly practicing sport, while 8 questionaires didn't have any answer for the question regarding the involvement of the children suffering from Down's syndrome in practicing physical activities.

--in order to see how involved the adults were in the activity of their child we asked whether they would accompany them to their practice lessons (see table 2):
Table 2. The involvement of the the adults in
the activity of their child

Yes, I accompanied them     No, I don't      No answer
                          accompanied them

104                              29              8

--moreover, we wanted to know whether the adults participated actively or passively in their training lessons (see table 3:
Table 3. The involvement of the the adults
actively or passively

Yes, I         No, I didn't   No answer
participated   participate

97                  33           10

The arguments in favour of either active or passive attitude were diverse.

Some had positive effects for the child/young adult suffering from Down's syndrome: learning together and having the possibility to exercise at home what they learnt at the lessons, to encourage and motivate him, to see how they handle a situation and notice their progress, to observe how well they learnt the movements the teacher recommended, to advise them how to do better and to temper them. Due to other reasons some adults also expressed their passive role by driving the child to classes because there were few volunteers, by observing their behaviour around others out of curiosity.

The arguments among the adults who answered negatively were that they didn't have enough time because of their jobs or the child suffering from Down's syndrome was not involved in any sports activity.

--the following required a general point of view from the adults about physical activities.

Their answers could be synthesized as follows: such activities 'are beneficial for physical and social development, as a confidence and self-esteem boost.'

--the adults agreed (103 positive answers) that their child/ young adult suffering from Down's syndrome should practice different sport with fellow nondisabled pupils;

--15 answers were negative and 12 adults didn't answer this question.

The arguments for whether or not disabled people should practice sport activities with those nondisabled were very diverse.

The arguments in favour of the ideea of inclusive physical activities were the following: it gives the children the opportunity to make new friends, interact with other people whether disabled or not of the same age, learn to stimulate and mutually help, to know other people and to learn from one another especially because a child/ teen suffering from Down's syndrome can learn a lot very well through imitation.

We can register as negative opinions for this question the following: there is a considerable danger of one hurting themselves, those undisabled would not be able to understand the children with Down's syndrome, they are not accepted by others.

--111 adults believe that the practice of different sport activities has helped them to better know their child/ teen suffering from Down's syndrome because the involvement in practicing various sports has highlighted qualities and skills which parents would not have had the possibility to discover in any other circumstances such as other activities of which children take part at schools or at their NGO.

In this way the adults found that the children with Down's syndrome could learn and practice sport varieties which the parents don't have any knowledge of such as swimming, bocce, skying, cycling.

At the same time the adults allege that they discovered new aspects of the personalities of their children with Down's syndrome and new abilities that they didn't even think' that they will ever learn. And to this question 14 adults answered negatively. They mentioned that the practice of sports by their children didn't help them change their image about themselves and 15 of them didn't offer any answer.

--another benefit noticed by the parents (84 affirmative answers) was related to new activities that the child/teen suffering from Down's syndrome does around the house.

They aim at personal care (dressing up, washing, combing, putting on shoes, a.o.), involvement in daily chores, but also the will of some to practice newly learnt physical skills, to read and write, to take care of younger siblings.

There were also adults (33 answers) who don't consider that their child with Down's syndrome managed to do new things by himself at home following the influences determined by the organised practice of physical activities, while 24 adults didn't offer any answer.

--we also found the attitude of the parents regarding their children patients of Down's syndrome important especially if they also have siblings.

In this case we were interested if the parents occupy themselves with all their children and pay attention to them in the same manner.

Thus we found out that 92 patients of Down's syndrome have siblings, 34 do not and 14 adults didn't answer this question. We found out from the parents who have other children that most of them occupy themselves equally with their children because they consider it 'normal to give them equal chances to develop' that 'they have feelings' towards all/both children, that they don't want them to feel any difference between them in order to keep balance in their family and not to develop hyperprotective attitudes for their child with Down's syndrome.' There were also adults who stated that they pay more attention to they Down's syndrome child because their other child is of age and now 'their entire attention is steered towards their disabled child.' There was also an adult who said that they always paid more attention to their Down's syndrome child because they had permanently greater needs than the other child.'

--a different benefit identified with help of our questionnaire aims the family of the child/teen with Down's syndrome and their bond with other families with disabled children or teens.

Thus 100 of the interviewed said that they had established bonds with other families whose child members have medical issues. At the same time 71 adults stated that because of the involvement of the child/teen in different physical activities they were able to discover new useful resources in their development and that the relationships between they children had tangibly improved.

Also 82 adults metioned that they spend more time with their child because of physical activities and practice more sport activities together (74 answers) ever since their Down's syndrome child had begun practicing an organised sport activity.

--to the question regarding how occupied are their children 105 adults answered that their children often have something to do, while 63 adults said that they are almost always willing to do that thing with their child.

--another benefit identified by the parents (86 of them) as an effect of regular practice of physical activities by their children consisted of the easier interaction of the children who managed to make new friends to whom they speek or they meet at least once a week.

Other benefits of practicing different kinds of sports: maintaining physical and mental health, harmonious physical development, better adaptability in the society and a stricter activity programe, the possibility of having contact with other people whether disabled or not, discovering new things and the desire of practicing them in the free time, more confidence in what one does, the desire of going to different sport activities in order to meet others, perfecting talking skills, a better coordination in all the activities one is involved in, a.o.

What also needs to be added is the joy the adults see in their children, participating in contests in the country and outside of it, the sense of independance that children earn, the more confidence they have in themselves, the motivation and desire of practicing new sports, a healthier and more organised life style.

And other international studies reflect these benefits. Thus, K.S. Menear (2007) talked about the very important benefits of sport practising. These benefits were observed by the patents who she interviewed.

She mentioned that 'most parents observed that their child participated in physical activities primarily for social reasons, most notably to be with their peers with or without Down syndrome' and 'all parents believed participation in physical activity has immediate and long-term positive health impacts on their child with Down syndrome'.

At the same time, N. A. Murphy (2008) affirmed that "Parents of Special Olympians reported that their child's participation promoted social adjustment, life satisfaction, family support, and community involvement".


The children/young adults suffering from Down's syndrome have the same needs as the other children. 'They must be accepted for what they are and must be treated with respect as part of the group, class and society as a unit.' (A. Moanja and colab, 2006).

Practicing different physical activities by children suffering from Down's syndrome allows the parents/ social assistants to know their child better, to discover the positive aspects of their personality, their passions and to give them equal chances like their other siblings in their development.At the same time the adults have the chance of meeting parents who have children with the same health issue, they can communicate among themselves, share the experiences they have had with direct positive effects for them and their children.


This paper is achieved and published under the aegis of the National University of Physical Education and Sports of Bucharest, as a partner of the programme co-funded by the European Social Fund within the Operational Sectorial Programme for Human Resources Development 2007-2013 through the project Pluri- and interdisciplinary in doctoral and post-doctoral programmes Project Code: POSDRU/159/1.5/S/141086, its main beneficiary being the Research Institute for Quality of Life, Romanian Academy.


Epuran, M., 2013, Motricitate ci psihism in activitatile corporale, Ed. FEST, Bucurecti. Georgescu, F., 1999, Cultura fizica--fenomen social, Ed. Tritonic, Bucurecti.

Moanta, A.D., Balan, V., Bejan, R., Geambacu, A., Grigore, A., 2006, Activitati competitionale la copii cu deficiente mintale, Ed. Cartea Universitara, Bucurecti.

Menear, K.S., 2007, Parents' perceptions of health and physical activity needs of children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, volume 12, issue 1, pp. 60-68, site:

Murphy, N.A., Carbone, P.S. and Council on Children with Disabilities, 2008, Promoting the Participation of Children with Disabilities in Sports, Recreation, and Physical Activities, In: Pediatrics, vol. 121, No. 5, pp. 1057-1061, site: /1057.full.pdf+html.


(1) Sport and Motor Performance Department, National University of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania

CORRESPONDENCE AND REPRINT REQUESTS: Balan Valeria, 140 C-tin Noica Street, District 6, Code 060057,, telephone: +40 720786485

(2) Phd. Studies Department, National University of Physical Education and Sport, Bucharest, Romania

Received 9.03.2015/Accepted 13.05.2015
Table 1. The adults who answered the questions

mother   father   brother/   grandparents     social       other
                   sister                   assistants   relatives

102        17        4            4             9            4
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Title Annotation:Original article
Author:Valeria, Balan; Gheorghe, Marinescu
Publication:Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education and Sport/Science, Movement and Health
Article Type:Report
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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