Using Sport as a Vehicle to Enhance Teamwork Skills in Young People and Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can be defined as “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction” and “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” (this includes sensory behaviour), to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning” (APA: 2013). The disorder is more commonly identified in those under the age of 14 with somewhere in the region of 1:69 to 1:88 children diagnosed in the UK annually (Christensen et al. 2018; Bishop-Fitzpatrick, Minshew & Eack, 2013). Further, boys (23.4 per 1000) are also thought to be considerably more likely to display ASD characteristics than girls (5.2 per 1000). Those who experience ASD are also more likely to be excluded from school, suffer poor health and health care, underemployed, and be poorly served by the criminal justice system (The Autism Dividend, 2017: p.17). Despite the prevalence of the disorder, research examining the associated mechanisms and interventions attempting to improve the social skills and everyday functioning of those with ASD are scarce. The purpose of the present research is to examine the use of sport as a vehicle to develop social skills in young people diagnosed with ASD. Sport in an intrinsically motivating context for many young people, team sport is thought to support the development of verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and video feedback has been shown as an effective tool to enhance social skills in those with ASD (Boyd et al., 2015). To achieve this we propose conducting a qualitative grounded theory exploration of the personal, social, and environmental needs of those with ASD in a sports setting.
Examining the Role of Personal Ethics in Athlete and Stakeholder Perceptions of Anti-Doping
Whilst there has been a great deal of attention focused within the anti-doping literature on moral processes, existing evidence has primarily viewed morality through limited theoretical lenses and heavily influenced by Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory. Unlike moral pluralists such as James (1909/1987), Kohlberg (1971, p. 232) argued that “Virtue is ultimately one, not many [processes], and it is always the same ideal form regardless of climate or culture”. This absolutist view of morality argues that certain acts are inherently right or wrong, however, such a position has been heavily criticised. For example, Gilligan (1982) criticised Kohlberg’s view of moral development and suggested that an ethic of care could not be derived from an ethic of justice. Kohlberg’s theory of moral development has also been criticised for being androgenic (Gilligan, 1977) and for placing too great an emphasis on rational thought (Greene & Haidt, 2002). Haidt and Joseph (2004) have since built upon the theories presented thus far to develop a unified framework for studying morality across cultures (i.e., Moral Foundations Theory; MFT). As doping is a global issue and WADA a global organisation, the pluralistic approach to morality encompassed within MFT may help to capture a broader range of culturally sensitive moral processes related to doping than those previously adopted.
Developing Positive Classroom Behaviours and Attitudes Towards Learning through Sport
Sport is in many ways, a dress rehearsal for life; be it receiving feedback, learning about one’s roles, responsibilities, obligations, and expectations; developing discipline, organisation, and communication; or experiencing highs and lows, victory and defeat. However, sport in as of itself is not a teacher. Sport merely provides opportunities for teachable moments. Further, as an intrinsically motivating and concentration-inducing activity, sport may provide an important context to engage the disengaged (Petitpas, Cornelius, Raalte, & Jones, 2005). When the aim is to use sport as a vehicle for life skill development, Petitpas et al. (2005) suggest it is best organised around the principles of Positive Youth Development (PYD). That is, through appropriately structured environments, that utilise caring adult mentors, and a positive social group or community. Despite an abundance of research examining coaching and group dynamics, there is an absence of research exploring how best to structure the sporting environment to maximise life skill development or create opportunities to transfer said skills beyond sport. In addressing this important topic, the proposed research will investigate the use of sport to develop psychosocial competencies (e.g., leadership, teamwork, resilience) with a view of positively influences classroom behaviours and attitudes towards learning.