Broadening the Bandwidth on Physical Literacy: Perspectives from Within the Context of Disability

  • Author / Creator
    Pushkarenko, Kyle Joseph
  • The purpose of this research was to explore the meaning and understandings of physical literacy within the contexts of impairment and disability according to the perspectives of those who support the involvement of individuals experiencing disability in physical activity. Three studies were conducted. To provide context to the dissertation, the specific purpose for the first study was to gain an understanding of the knowledge that exists pertaining to the inclusiveness of physical literacy with respect to individuals experiencing disability. A scoping review was conducted to examine peer-reviewed and grey literature from 2001 until August 2018, emphasizing physical literacy and its inclusiveness of individuals experiencing disability. Sixteen pieces of literature satisfied the inclusion criteria for the study. This literature was a contributing factor in identifying three key trends, including: (a) reinforcing the norm, (b) limited contexts, and (c) a need for prepared professionals. From this information, it can be concluded that physical literacy for individuals experiencing disability has been discussed intermittently and at a superficial level. This points to the limited scope of inquiry so far and the need for further exploration. The purpose of the second study was to explore the meaning and understandings of physical literacy for children labelled with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) held by their parents. Using an interpretive phenomenological analysis, in-depth discussions were held with six parents. Findings helped to illustrate that despite participating in programs emphasizing physical literacy, parents held varying understandings of what physical literacy represents in comparison to the dominant conceptualization, and from one person to the next. Additionally, parents believed that individualized opportunities for activity engagement contributed more to their child’s physical literacy development than current practices emphasizing physical literacy, which were not considered inclusive of their children as a result of their experiences. The experiences and understandings of parents reveal that physical literacy is not inclusive of all, and also illuminates the abelism they have experienced within current physical literacty practice. The objective of the third study was to explore the meaning and understandings of physical literacy for children labelled with ASD according to the perspectives of community-based adapted physical activity practitioners. Again using an interpretive phenomenological analysis, six practitioners engaged in discussion, offering their perspectives. Results from these discussions indicate that practitioners’ understandings are similar to conceptualizations based on normalized patterns of development, and are predominantly focused on the physical domain of development above all else. Additionally, despite this understanding, the practices used to facilitate physical literacy development are those considered to be best practices within the field of adapted physical activity, therefore suggesting that there is no one-size-fits-all model of physical literacy development. These findings not only exemplify potential problems (e.g., ableism) that can occur as a result of adopting models or frameworks of physical literacy development based on normative developmental patterns, but also highlight the uniqueness of physical literacy development for children labelled with ASD. Overall, the body of research contained within this dissertation provides much needed insight into what physical literacy represents within the context of disability; what it means, and how it is understood according to individuals facilitating physical activity experiences for children labelled with ASD (i.e., parents and adapted physical activity practitioners). Although this adds an element of depth and authenticity to the current body of physical literacy literature, there is still much to learn about physical literacy in the context of individuals experiencing disability.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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