The Importance of Integration

All students, whether disabled or not, have a need to feel part of their peer group. Sport is a great way that students can get involved with each other in a fun and active way. Self esteem is also increased when they feel they are making a worthy contribution. It is easy for MD students to miss out on this opportunity. This is where you can help. In the PE Program, by modifying game rules or using different equipment, you can involve the MD student physically in part of your session. This is important as they are particularly at risk of becoming socially isolated. If play is not possible they should be encouraged to be part of the group by umpiring, scoring and coaching.

Schools are in a unique position, to introduce students to a variety of sports from which they can make decisions as to which community sports they wish to persue. This should be true for MD students too. There are sporting clubs for individuals with MD where games are designed for them and competition is between MD players only. However if MD students are not introduced to these sports at school they may never discover the enjoyment that can be experienced through playing them.

Modified Games

Below is a list of sporting games that form a part of the secondary school curriculum and suggested changes that can be made to include the MD student. Remember that the emphasis should be on enjoyment and play rather than competition for the MD student and the others involved.

1. Softball

Set up a tee (normally used in teeball) and have a lightweight bat and ball for the MD student when it is his turn to bat. (Use a plastic bat, a foam ball, a large rubber ball or plastic ball with holes). These can be purchased from service stations, toy shops or sports stores. This equipment should only substitute normal playing equipment for the MD student. Also give him an opportunity to gace a ball thrown to him (The ball should be bigger and the throw should be much softer).

To overcome weakness in shoulder movements, advise MD students to hold the bat with one hand and swing their wheelchair around. The force of the swing to hit the ball will come from the whelchair momentum, not the strength of their arm. To make it possible for him to reach first base rule that the ball must be thrown to 2 people before it reaches first base.

When fielding, attach a piece of foam to the wheelchair in front of the student's legs so that they can move around the outside of the diamond and stop the ball. A bike basket could also be attached to the side of the wheelchair so he can move into positions under the ball for a catch. If the ball touches the bike basket on the full the batter is out.

2. Soccer

Include the student in the soccer drills with a big ballook soccer ball or physio ball. These can be purchased from Ansell. MD students can practice headbutting, and kicking using his wheelchair, to other students or the aide.

Half field ballonn soccer, can be played for about 20 minutes to involve the MD student for part of the session. It can also utilise skills the other students have learnt in an easy and fun way. Another option is to divide the class into those who want to play a fun game of balloon soccer with the MD student and those who want to play a full field game of soccer.

2. Hockey

To modify hockey to suit an MD student, quite a few changes need to be made and special equipment must be used. the game can be played in a similar way to soccer. It isplayed on an indoor or outdoor netball or basketball court, with five players in each team. Each has a lighweight hockey stick. A plastic ball with holes is used and witches hats can mark the goal area at each end.

3. Golf

For a higher functioning MD student position him forward in a wheelchair to make access to hitting the ball possible. Support his arms to make shoulder movement easier or him, and if necessary allow him to use lightweight hockey stick.

For a lower functioning student limit golf to putting only. Use the practice green at the beginning of the golf course or put the ball at the edge of each putting green and score the amount of hits it takes him to get the ball into the hole (so he does not have to drive it down the range).

4. Orienteering

This is a great sport for MD students to be involved in because it does not require much modification. Because of this MD students are made to feel a part of the group and can compete against the other students on the same level

Prepare well. Organise the course so that a wheelchair can get around it. have simple codes at each checkpoint that can be copied by the MD student.

Have students go out in pairs. This is safer for all the students but particularly for the MD student. encourage the MD student's partner to allow him to do as much as possible. A compass can be fixed to the arm of his wheelchair with a suction cap or some blue tac. The map can be laid flat and stuck to his table that fits into his wheelchair.

It is understood that modifying games may take away a sense of competition for the other students. Therefore games will need to be played without the MD student being physically involved. However when this occirs engage him in other ways. Encourage him to know the rules well and become a good umpire.

Teaching Umpire Skills

Take time to teach the MD student the rules of each sport. This can be done whilst explaining the rules to the other students. Give them a set of rules and go through these with the student to make sure he understands.

Video replays of the television coverage of sports is another way of teaching sporting skills to students and umpiring skills to the MD student. Student's learn by example so while the MD student is learning what is required to be a good umpire, his classmates are learning specific skills such as footwork and racket swing.

Umpire with the MD student until he is confident. Give encouragment and praise.

An alarm (for example, a self defense alarm) may need to be used if the MD student cannot use a whistle confortably as he may find it difficult to continually bring it up to his mouth.

Warm U Activities

If it is not possible for the MD student to participate in the whole PE session, it is important for him to be involved for a short time in pre-game activities. Therefore a few activities that specifically involve the MD student and slo help teach skills to the other students has been suggested. However, these are only examples of how activities can be modified.

1. Beanbag Hockey

This game should be played indoors on a wooden court. Divide the group into 2 teams and give each student a number. Use rolled up newspaper for 3 hockeysticks, a beanbag, and 2 chairs for goals. Place the beanbag and 2 hockeysticks in the middle of the chairs and then call a number. The people from each team with that number run to the middle and aim to score a goal for their team by hitting the beanbag under their chair.

Allow the MD student to hold a hockeystick so that he doesn't have to reach down and pick one up when his number is called.

2. Balloon Volleyball

This game should be played indoors on a wooden volleyball court. Divide the group into 2 teams and have each team stand down their side line except 1 player who stands in the centre of the court with a badminton racket. Play starts when 1 player hits a baloon over the net. After playing he runs to the end of the line and the person at the beginning of the line runs on to the court to play next. Meanwhile the player of the side must try to hit the balloon back over the net. If that player does not get if over the next person in line tries. The side has 3 chances to hit the balloon over. Play continues until one side scores 11 points

3. Obstacle Course

An obstacle course can be set up by using witches hats, chairs, gym mats, landmarks amd anyting else in the sports store room. Two similar courses can be set up and the class can be divided into two teams. The MD student can be one team and an able-bodied student in a manual wheelchair on the other team. using this method, the competition between the teams will be equal. All the players on each team must complete the obstacle course. the team that finishes first is the winner.

The obstacle course van be modified to teach a number of different skills. An example is to hit a ball with a hockey stick or kick a soccer ball around the course.

Safety Issues.

Some games could possibly be modified for the MD student, but because he is in a wheelchair it would be dangerous to have him on the field competing against other students for the ball. Therefore safety of the other children must be considered.
Safety of the MD student is also important. Remember that :

Balance is easily lost.

Fatigue is a serious hazard. Only moderate exercise should be done.

No strain should be exerted.

Strength exercises are contraindicated.

Consultation with the student's doctor or parents is recommended to ensure that activities and planned modifications will have no adverse effects.

Although safety of the MD student is essential, it does not mean that he should be over protected. All MD students are likely to fall at some stage but like other individuals recover quickly.

Further Guidelines For Teachers

As integration into normal sport for the MD students is relatively new, you will need to discover their interest and work with them to make participation appealing and accepting. Praise and encouragment are essential in motivating them to be involved.

It is important to have an understanding of which muscle groups are more severely affected and which movements are possible. This allows you to concentrate on what they can do rather than on what they cannot. Through this, their abilities will be strengthened and realistic goals will be obtained.

Do not underestimate what they can do.

Motivate the MD student to participate as much as possible. When the other students go for a jog around the oval or run a cross country event, encourage the MD student to drive around in his wheelchair with them.

Put some throught into how you can modify further sporting activities to allow even some types of participation of the MD student with the group. This is important because as his peers are expanding thier experiences and skills in sport, he is progressively becomming limited in his movement and therefore experiences and skills.

The whole class can also be involved in setting the rules so the MD studebnt can participate. In this way competition can still be maintained and the MD student will be accepted by his peers.

Muscular dystrophy porgresses at different rates in each MD student therefore each child will have a different degree of muscle weakness. Using the pamphlet will give you an understanding of how to integrate them into a normal sport program, however it is by no means comprehensive. Sport programs must be planned on an individual basis according to the child's abilities and limiations.

Further Information

Further information on MD and how to integrate the MD student into a normal sport program is available from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). It is suggested also that you contact MDA about your MD student and how to use this information effectively for them.

The MDA will also provide information on where to purchase specialised equipment.

Additional Information Available



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