This paper addresses how parents encourage or discourage sports involvement by their visually impaired offspring, the types of sports involvement these children pursue, and the effects of parental encouragement on sports involvement. It analyzes new evidence from a study of parental adjustment to a visually impaired child. The evidence was derived mainly from open-ended, in-depth interviews of parents of 18 partially sighted and totally blind children who had attended public school. There were 15 mothers and 9 fathers in the 16 families who were interviewed, and 2 of the families had 2 visually impaired children. Additional data were provided through interviews with 14 professionals and volunteers from various fields who had sports-related experiences or observations of visually impaired children and their families. Four major forms of parental encouragement and discouragement were identified: strong encouragers, weak encouragers, tolerators, and discouragers. The predominance of the latter three helped explain the dominant patterns of limited involvement in sport by visually impaired children. Implications of these findings for mainstreaming and appropriate integration also are considered.
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