Working with athletes with intellectual disabilities
When considering organized sport, the most widely available resources for athletes with intellectual disabilities are the Special Olympics programs. Founded in 1968, these programs have grown to include more than 2.5 million athletes, in over 180 countries (Special Olympics, 2009). The mission of the Special Olympics centers on participation with the added intentions of enhancing fitness levels, motor skills, confidence, and self-concept. Sport participation at elite levels takes place through the International Sports Federation for People with an Intellectual Disability (INAS-FID). The INAS-FID fosters competitive sport environments for athletes who choose open competition governed by the rules of the international sport federations (INAS-FID, 2009). Working in a complementary fashion, the Special Olympics and the INAS-FID aim to improve society’s perceptions of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport participation. Athletes may participate in events hosted by either, or both, organizations.