(Article 3 of 5)
[5-Part Article Series]
Persons with physical disabilities hold limited positions as scholars, teachers or leaders in physical education, recreation and sport. Perhaps the reason is that the field is flooded with able-bodied people who think they know best. But what are they? Michael Oliver, a prominent author, and scholar argues that people with physical disabilities should be unique to the field of disability studies because they have physical experience with disabilities. The following five-part article series shares the perspective of a sports scholar with disabilities who has his own physical limitations. In each article, he addresses a different problem faced by persons with physical disabilities in the physical education, recreation and sports professions.
Part III: The Power of Time
I’ve heard able-bodied teachers say, “I don’t have time to teach inclusion.” I believe what they are really saying is the extra preparation just isn’t worth the time. Fact: it is do taking more time to fully involve students with physical disabilities in physical education, recreation, and sports. The idea of ”giving more” time can be overwhelming. Yet, pressed, would these professionals argue that failure to provide inclusion actually denies their able-bodied students a truly challenging physical education experience? I believe that time is of the essence and but I also believe every student, able-bodied or not, can have an extraordinary experience.
We live in a fast-paced able-bodied society. When able-bodied professionals become experts, they will develop general physical education lesson plans for able-bodied classes in a timely manner. But what happens if there are students with physical disabilities who want to fully participate in these activities? The teacher must then take the time and create adaptations for students to succeed. As a person with Traumatic Brain Injury, I understand it takes more time.
I grew up around able-bodied people in my home, at school, and at sports. I have the mindset of an able-bodied person and I believe I can do anything. Growing up with my physical limitations, however, I was always in a world of rushes. I convinced myself that I was behind on everything, and I consistently tried to keep up because I knew it would take more time. I worry that I won’t have enough time, just as teachers worry they might not have enough time to prepare. I would think to myself that I didn’t have enough time to complete a physical task, and then I would just stop trying. It wasn’t until after my doctoral program that I learned to slow down. My mentor understands the concept of time and it takes time to get students with physical disabilities into classes. He understands the importance of being a mentor and taking the extra time I need because of my Traumatic Brain Injury.
A teacher has to make time for students with physical disabilities to be successful and when they do take the time, the benefits are endless. With my mentor taking the extra time I needed, I know I am worthy and capable of doing tasks I never imagined I would do. Physical education teachers and coaches who take extra time are heroes to students with physical disabilities. Those students have found someone who considers them worthy of their time. These teachers are willing to teach and train them. Taking the time will change the lives of you, professionals, and students with physical disabilities. Take the time, you won’t regret it.
Take This Month’s 5 Part Series
Leading as Scholars with Physical Disabilities
- Don’t judge me by my performance
- I Am Not an Object or Incompetent
- Time Power
- If You Can’t Do It – Can You Teach It? (June 23)
- Talk to me (June 29)
This series was written by Aubrey Shaw, Ph.D. and edited by Dr. Sharon Stoll (University of Idaho)