Parents’ physical activity−related perceptions of their children with disabilities

Jeffrey J. Martin, Ph.D., Yun Seok Choi, Ph.D.

Division of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA

Disability and Health JournalJanuary 2009 Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 9–14



Parental support of children’s physical activity is important, especially for young children with disabilities, given their low rates of physical activity and dependence on parents.


The primary purpose of the current study was to examine multidimensional sources of parental support and whether these perceptions were related to parents’ perceptions of their children’s physical ability.


Parents (N = 68) of children with disabilities completed scales assessing how much they role modeled, encouraged, and enjoyed physical activity in addition to their perceptions of their children’s physical ability and peer relations in sport.


Parents were encouraging of their children’s physical activity and sport participation. Although they did not view their children as being particularly skilled, they perceived that they enjoyed physical activity and sport. Parents also perceived their children’s peer relations in physical activity and sport settings as being fairly neutral and to some extent contingent upon how physically capable they were seen by their peers.


Parents’ support of their children’s sport and physical activity was not contingent on how physically capable they viewed their children, which is encouraging. Adult leaders of sports program should consider monitoring peer relations in their programs in order to teach appropriate helping and peer behaviors.