An investigation into the physical education experiences of children with autism

Masters Thesis

Chapman, M. 2019. An investigation into the physical education experiences of children with autism. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Psychology and Life Sciences
AuthorsChapman, M.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research

The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences that pupils with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) face in primary school physical education lessons. According to Stockley (2010) Physical Education (PE) presents a distinctively practical setting that allows pupils to participate in enjoyable, simulating, and challenging physical activities through the guidance of the national curriculum (Department for Education, 2013). An inclusive physical education curriculum would give every student the opportunity to participate in lessons, feel valued and potentially improve their confidence. Although some studies have previously investigated the experiences of pupils with physical disabilities, the perspectives of those with autistic spectrum disorders remain mainly unexplored (Healy et al. 2013).

Ten pupils with autistic spectrum disorders who attend a combined mainstream and special school participated. The data was collected through face to face semi structured interviews to discover the experiences of the participants during their primary school physical education lessons. An inductive approach was used to provide a thorough account of the data found. After the interviews had been transcribed coding was utilised to identify the emerging themes from the data collected.

Results and conclusion
The participants had both positive and negative experiences during their physical education lessons. Five key themes emerged from the data analysis and coding of this study. The themes consisted of sensory challenges, barriers to participating in PE, demonstrations during PE lessons, team games and bullying and exclusion by peers. The findings are discussed in relation to the research found in the literature review. Limitations of the research conducted and considerations for future research are also included within this thesis. These themes highlight numerous influencing factors that affect the participants experiences which if taken into consideration by PE teachers could improve the experiences within PE lessons for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders.

KeywordsPhysical education experiences; Investigation; Children; Autism
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Publication process dates
Deposited07 Nov 2022
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