Clinical Considerations and Resources for Youth Athletes with Intellectual Disability:

a Review with a Focus on Special Olympics International

Purpose of Review This review provides an overview of sports participation by youth athletes with intellectual disability (ID), focusing on activities offered by Special Olympics International (SOI). The review also describes SOI’s health initiatives, as awareness of the sports and health activities of SOI is critical for clinicians who serve youth with ID. SOI is the largest global public health organization for people with ID.
Recent Findings 2018 is the 50th Anniversary of SOI. For 50 years, SOI has been using the power of sport to break down barriers both on and off the field. From 2016 to 2020, SOI is focusing on Inclusive Health: the inclusion of people with ID in mainstream health policies and laws, programming, services, training programs, research, and funding streams (Special Olympics International 2018).
Summary Clinicians caring for youth with ID should be aware of the sport opportunities for this population and the health initiatives of SOI. Future research is needed on applying sports' medicine principles to youth athletes with ID. By including this article alongside an article on youth adaptive sports, the field of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine is demonstrating its commitment to all youth athletes.

The mission of Special Olympics International (SOI) is “To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disability (ID)—see Table 1 for definitions [2–5], giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community” [6]. For many people, the cause of intellectual disability is unknown. Some of the most common causes of intellectual disability include fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetic conditions, birth defects, serious head injury, stroke, or certain infections [7]. Intellectual disability is a relatively common diagnosis, with an estimated prevalence of 1.04% [8], read the complete review.