Adaptive Sports for Kids with Disabilities and Special Needs

In search of adaptive sports for kids with physical or developmental disabilities? Here are local sports programs for kids with special needs in the metro Detroit and Ann Arbor areas.

Your child doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines just because they have a disability. Whether your child with Down syndrome is itching to swim or your little one who uses a wheelchair would love to play basketball, organizations in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor offer special needs sports programs and adaptive sports for kids with a range of abilities. Take a look at the offerings to see which organizations will be a fit for your kid.

Canton Leisure Services Inclusion Recreation

Whether your child has a developmental or physical disability, they’re welcome to get active with the therapeutic recreation programs. Leisure Club Programing (typically running September-May) includes a non-competitive bowling league, dancing, “Swim & Movie” and more. Plus, there’s an adaptive sports class to teach participants how to play everyday sports with their abilities. In summer, kids 8-14 can sign up for this spot’s summer camp for kids with disabilities.

Downriver Panthers

  • Address: Various venues throughout downriver community
  • Cost: Free

This downriver team offers sports for those with physical disabilities and special needs, including swimming, baseball and bowling. 

Friendship Circle 

Basketball clinic in the fall, soccer clinic in the winter and floor hockey clinic in the spring. Plus, summertime sports camps.

Inclusively Fit

As the name states, this is an inclusive facility where everybody is welcome, no matter the physical or cognitive disability. Find plenty of exercise and fitness opportunities at this gym especially for kids and adults with special needs. Participate in one-on-one physical fitness with a trainer and learn how to walk the treadmill, do pushups and sit-ups, use adaptive machinery and more. Clients can also enjoy the full basketball court or obstacle course. After-school tutoring is also available.

Michigan Adaptive Sports 

  • Address: Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in summer, Pine Knob in winter
  • Cost: $30-$40

This Michigan chapter of Disabled Sports USA has adaptive downhill skiing and snowboarding in the winter and adaptive water skiing and kayaking clinics in summer for those with a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities. Many participants’ disabilities range from amputation and paralysis to cerebral palsy, head injuries and developmental disabilities, the site notes.

Oakland County Adaptive Recreation

  • Address: Drop-in program at a variety of locations in Oakland County
  • Cost: contact for details

Oakland County Parks has partnered with more than 30 non-profits to provide golf, dancing and other recreational opportunities for people with special needs.

OUCARES Recreation Programs

  • Address: OUCARES at Oakland University, 425C Pawley Hall, Rochester
  • Cost: Varies based on program; ranges $40-$130 and scholarships are available

Kids, teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their friends and siblings can participate in these sports programs, which include indoor and outdoor soccer, swimming, bowling, yoga, judo, basketball, volleyball and golf. All programs encourage socialization and are a great way to engage people with autism.  Social skills programs also available.

RARA – Rochester Avon Recreation Authority

Offers basketball, bowling and softball leagues for peoples with disabilities year-round. Dance, fitness and martial arts, too.

Sterling Heights Special Recreation 

  • Address: Various locations in Sterling Heights
  • Cost: Vary based on program and whether resident or nonresident. Contact for details

Find a plethora of activities for kids with various disabilities, such as dance exercise, bowling and basketball. Check online for the latest newsletter detailing programming. 

Special Olympics Michigan — Southeast Region

  • Address: Various counties across southeast Michigan
  • Cost: Free

Find a multitude of sports offerings through Special Olympics Michigan, including skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, basketball, cycling, gymnastics, golf, volleyball and many more. Open to kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as cognitive delays. No prior experience necessary. Reach out to the Special Olympics Michigan — Southeast Region to get hooked up with your county’s specific contact.

The Miracle League of Michigan

  • Address: Miracle Field, Southfield Civic Center, 26000 Evergreen Road, Southfield
  • Cost: $85/10-game baseball season (includes major league jersey, hat and trophy), $50-$75/other programs

This Easterseals Michigan program welcomes kids with any disability to play one game per week – no experience necessary. With the help of “buddies,” kids can learn the game and have an opportunity to bat, run bases and score. Games are two innings and last an hour – plus the participants use safety equipment. Other programs through Miracle League of Michigan include dance, bowling and touch football.

TR Buddy Soccer

Each player is paired with a 10-17-year-old to assist them, if needed.

Troy Parks and Recreation – Adaptive Recreation Program

Basketball, bowling and dancing are just a few of the activities included.

Wheelchair Hockey League

Sign up to play adaptive wheelchair floor hockey from October-May. Kids with a range of disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, arthrogryposis, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones) can join in.

This post is updated regularly.


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