Development of physical competence through motor skill acquisition for children and youth with disabilities: Parental perceptions
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Submission date: 2014-09-20
Final revision date: 2014-12-02
Acceptance date: 2014-12-02
Online publication date: 2014-12-08
Publication date: 2014-12-08
Health Psychology Report 2015;3(1):1–12
Parents are integral social agents in children’s physical activity choices and involvement providing direct (feedback) and indirect (providing opportunities) competence information as well as multiple levels of support for activity engagement. Research is scant on parent perceptions and/or expectations specific to physical competencies and activity experiences among children with disabilities. The objective of this study was to capture parent perceptions of their child’s physical competencies and physical activity experiences and any changes in perceptions as their child navigated learning cycling skills.

Participants and procedure
Parents/guardians who had children enrolled in an adapted cycling camp participated in the pre- and post-focus group discussions (N = 14). Children’s disabilities were developmental delay, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder. Questions focused on parent perceptions about their child’s physical activity experiences and thoughts and feelings about those experiences.

Main themes emerged from pre- and post-camp sessions. Pre-camp themes highlighted the child’s past physical activity involvement (ex. barriers, opportunities). Incentives and motivations to participation and diminished perceptions of their child’s abilities were the other main themes. Post-camp themes revealed child’s reactions to the camp experience, effective pedagogy, benefits for learning to cycle and parent perceptions for child’s success.

Introducing children with disabilities to physical activities that are both challenging and provide successful experiences contribute positively to parents’ perceptions and expectations for activity. Parents see the benefits of effective pedagogy for learning physical skills, importance of adapted equipment in skill acquisition, competence, and confidence. Parents can be hopeful in future physical activity choices and opportunities for their children.