Integrated sports are good for everyone

By Marie Grandisson, PhDc, Université Laval
Sylvie Tétreault, PhD, CIRRIS
Andrew Freeman, PhD,
Université Laval

Promoting the health and social participation of adolescents with intellectual disability (ID) is important. In sports, adolescents with ID are rarely mixed together with non-disabled children. The integration of these individuals in sports, alongside non-disabled athletes, is one way to promote their health and inclusion in society all at once.

What did you do in your research?
We wanted to find out which factors encourage and which hinder the integration of adolescents with ID to be in mainstream sports with other peers. Two groups of participants were interviewed. The first group included adolescents with ID and their parents. They were asked about their view on the outcomes of sports participation of children with ID. Also, both were asked about barriers and what would help the integration in sports activities. The second group included professionals working with individuals with ID. They were asked to complete a questionnaire and participate in a discussion group on the same topic.

What did you find out?
Many factors need to be considered when thinking about integration of sports. These factors include the attitudes of the other athletes, and the coaches' knowledge about ID, and providing assistance for the athlete with ID. Finally, for athletes with ID, their previous experience in sports and integrated settings, as well as athletic abilities; and their behavioral control can have a huge influence on whether integration is likely to be successful.

What are the take-home messages?
Inclusion in sports can have a lot of benefits for adolescents with ID, as well as for their parents and non-disabled athletes. However, many barriers need to be removed before benefits can occur. Also, there’s still a need to explore more on what helps and stops the integration of adolescents with ID in integrated sports, especially from the view of coaches and non-disabled athletes.

To learn more about these findings contact
Marie Grandisson.

Full Journal Article
Grandisson, M., Te´treault, S., & Freeman, A. (2012). Enabling integration in sports for adolescents with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 25(3), 217–230.