Can Children with Mild Mental Retardation Perceive Affordances for Action?

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 University of Virginia
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Recent evidence utilizing an ecological approach to perception (Gibson, 1979; Warren, 1984) suggests that children acquire the ability to distinguish what movement an environment “affords” soon after they acquire motor skills (e.g., Gibson et al., 1987; Palmer, 1989; Ulrich, Thelen, & Niles, 1991). However, it is still unclear whether or not children with cognitive disabilities can accurately perceive affordances (see Burton, 1987, 1990). The purpose of this study was to determine if boys with mild mental retardation could perceive affordances for the skill of jumping distances (standing long jump). Boys with mild mental retardation were asked to judge whether or not various distances could be jumped across by use of a two-footed takeoff and landing. Perceptual judgment was then compared to actual maximum jumping distance. Results indicate that boys with mental retardation were able to accurately perceive the affordance for jumping distance. Results were explained via an ecological perspective.

Martin E. Block is with the Program Area of Physical Education, Department of Human Services, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

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