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Allen W. Burton

Adapted physical education specialists must design and carry out programs for students with movement coordination problems, but intervention strategies for such students are rarely included in adapted physical education textbooks. In response to the lack of information available to practitioners, the purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual framework for better understanding movement coordination, to briefly review some of the methods used by both researchers and practitioners to assess coordination, and to present some possible strategies for addressing movement coordination deficits. Two types of coordination solutions are discussed—neuromotor and mechanical—and specific activity progressions are given for jumping jacks and overhand throwing.

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Allen W. Burton

The purpose of this experiment was to design a gross-motor task that would quantify the perceptual sensitivity of developmentally disabled (DD) and nonhandicapped (NH) children to the relationship between their personal constraints and the constraints in the environment in a movement context. Three groups of subjects participated in this experiment: 17 DD preschoolers, 25 NH kindergarteners, and 27 NH fourth-graders. The subjects moved through a sequence of four high-jump barriers six times as quickly as possible, negotiating the barriers any way they wanted. They also went through the course without the barriers as quickly as possible to establish a baseline movement time. Relative to their own baseline, the fourth-graders moved through the obstacle course significantly faster than the kindergarteners, while the kindergarteners went through the course significantly faster than the DD preschoolers. In addition, significant differences were found between the NH kindergarteners and DD preschoolers for two sets of perceptual variables: percent error and the slopes of two identified transitions from one mode of locomotion to another. These results and further analyses showed that at least some of the movement problems experienced by DD children can be attributed to perceptual difficulties, and established the potential of the present methodology in examining perceptual sensitivity in a movement context in DD and NH children.

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Allen W. Burton

The possibility that movement problems experienced by children may be at least partially accounted for by perceptual deficits needs to be considered by adapted physical educators. The ecological approach to perception, emphasizing the person-environment relationship, provides a useful conceptual foundation for defining perceptual deficits in relation to movement, for assessing perceptual deficits, and for designing and implementing remedial programs. A starting point for acknowledging the interaction of perception and movement in adapted physical education programs might be to strive to include activities that are purposeful in nature whenever possible. The next step, for students who may be suspected of having perceptual deficits, might be to help the children become better attuned to the affordances in their environment.

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Walter Davis and Allen W. Burton

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Allen W. Burton and Richard W. Rodgerson

The practice of adapted physical education should be consistent with a theoretical model of motor behavior. We believe that the dominant view of movement skills, motor abilities, and general motor ability, as expressed in the current literature, often is not congruent with assessment instruments currently used in adapted physical education. The purpose of this paper is to review the dominant conceptualization of skills, abilities, and general motor ability; present four problems with the dominant view related to assessment in adapted physical education; and then offer a new perspective based on a four-level taxonomy. The levels of the proposed taxonomy are movement skills, movement skill sets, movement skill foundations, and general motor ability.

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Geoffrey D. Broadhead and Allen W. Burton

In this opinion paper, we pose the question whether the current generation of scholars have taken advantage of the rich legacy of early adapted physical activity (APA) research. We believe that this legacy often has been ignored, even though it holds many treasures waiting to be rediscovered. We begin with a brief description of the knowledge base in APA prior to 1980, then evaluate the present recognition of past research contributions. Finally, we recommend how students, professionals, and researchers might be encouraged to take advantage of the vast body of literature in APA and related fields.

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Walter E. Davis and Allen W. Burton

A new approach to task analysis is presented based upon an ecological theory of perception and current motor development and control theories. The ecological task analysis (ETA) approach stands in sharp contrast to more traditional approaches and offers procedures equally applicable to instruction and assessment of movement performance as well as to applied research. The strengths of the ETA approach lie in (a) its grounding in current motor development and control theories, (b) its linking of the task requirements, environmental conditions, and performer characteristics, (c) its application of a functional and dynamic approach to instruction and assessment, and (d) its integration of instruction and assessment procedures. Following a discussion of the traditional approach and ecological theory, four concepts are presented that emanate from Gibson’s theory of affordances. From these concepts ETA procedures are derived. Applied research questions relating to task analysis are also implied from the ecological approach and are presented in the final section.

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Allen W. Burton and Walter E. Davis

Balance is an integral part of most movement activities, but assessing its contribution to overall movement performance and identifying possible balance deficits poses a complex problem. Although almost all of the adapted physical education textbooks published in the last 10 years include a section on balance, adapted physical educators need a more in-depth understanding of the issues related to the assessment of balance and postural control that presently may be gained only by going directly to the extensive research base that cuts across many fields of inquiry. Thus the purpose of this paper is to (a) provide a brief overview of the current knowledge base related to balance, with an emphasis on balance deficits, and (b) describe the types of tasks used to assess balance, discuss some problems involved in evaluating balance in adapted physical education, and provide some suggestions on how to improve balance assessment procedures in adapted physical education.

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Allen W. Burton and Walter E. Davis

An ecological model of motor behavior presented by Davis and Burton (12) suggests that the qualitative and quantitative aspects of motor behavior for all persons emerge from three sets of constraints: performer, environmental, and task. The involvement and performance of movement activities by children with physical impairments may be optimized by carefully manipulating one or more of these three types of constraints, and by recognizing and accepting that the optimal movement patterns used by these children with unique performer constraints may differ from those exhibited by other children.

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James V. Mastro, Allen W. Burton, Marjorie Rosendahl and Claudine Sherrill

Hierarchies of preference by elite athletes with impairments toward other athletes with impairments were examined by administering the Athletes With Impairments Attitude Survey (AWIAS) to 138 members of the United States Disabled Sports Team as they were traveling to the 1992 Paralympic Games. The AWIAS uses 12 statements concerning social and sport relationships to measure social distance from a particular impairment group. Five groups of athletes participated—athletes with amputations, cerebral palsy, dwarfism or les autres, paraplegia or quadriplegia, and visual impairment—with each participant filling out a separate survey for the four impairment groups other than his or her own. For all groups combined, the participants’ responses toward other impairment groups, ordered from most to least favorable attitudes, were amputations, les autres, para/quadriplegia, visual impairment, and cerebral palsy. The preference hierarchies for individual groups were very similar to this overall pattern.