Social, Physical and Psychological Needs of Special Groups During Sports and Exercise

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Social, Physical and Psychological Needs of Special Groups During Sports and Exercise Focusing on School Children who are Visually Impaired

In order for children to develop into physically active, healthy young adults they need to be firstly introduced to sport and secondly educated in sport from an early age. However this is not such an easy concept when working with young children who are physically or mentally disabled, due to sport, physical education and provision frequently being aimed at able bodied participants (Thomas &Smith 2008). Therefore when instructing individuals who have a disability it is imperative to know what their individual needs and abilities are in order to account for every aspect in relation to what is important, as well as to be aware of any undetected requirement; whether they possess a physical or mental disability. Knowing the specific physical, social and psychological needs will enhance learning. The needs of individuals may change slightly depending on their age, gender, disability and circumstance. Young children often have many physical, social and psychological needs whilst participating in sport and exercise. These needs become exceptionally important to adhere to when the children in question suffer from visual impairments, this is because vision is the primary sensory input for children and adults, and is the starting point for the majority of human learning (Progund & Fazzi, 2002). Visual Impairment is defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Educations Act (IDEA) as ‘Visual impairment, including blindness, means impairment in vision that, even when corrected, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and Blindness’ (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, 2006.cited in Winnick, 2010). Visual Impairment, as with many other disabilities, has varying degrees. For educational purposes children with visual impairments are classified as partially sighted, low vision, legally blind or totally blind. Children with visual impairments are faced with huge obstacles, because in addition to their visual impairment many often demonstrate developmental delays too, especially their motor development. The loss of vision has serious implications on the development of motor, intellectual, psychological and social characteristics (Auxter et al, 2010). This highlights the reasons as to why it is important to be aware of and educated about the physical, social and psychological needs of the young visually impaired whilst participating in sport and exercise. Physical Needs:

Visually impaired children will face many physical obstacles when participating in sport and exercise, because of their decrease visual awareness. P.E is an important aspect for the physical and motor development in children. Previous research into children with visual impairments has showed that they had significantly lower motor skills and physical competence than their sighted peers (Brambring, 2001; Gronmo & Augestad, 2000). This could be due to the lack of visual stimulation during their early development. Physical activity for disabled individuals has been defined as any activity suited to the capabilities of individuals with an emphasis on motor development, physical education and all athletic activities (Silva, 2000 cited in Constâncio, 2010). In order to facilitate for the visually impaired physically, adaptations to normal sporting activities may be required and their physical needs should be accounted for within the session (Winnick, 2010). To begin with the visually impaired must be made aware of the space in which they are learning in as they do not have the sight to distinguish this. According to Auxter et al (2010) children with visual limitations have very little spatial perception; therefore they cannot judge distance, location, position or direction. Appropriate spatial awareness techniques may include...
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