“You Don’t Get to Have the Same Experiences”: Youth with Disabilities’ Perspectives of Integrated Physical Education


  • Katherine Holland Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Justin A. Haegele Old Dominion University
  • Xihe Zhu Old Dominion University
  • Jonna Bobzien Old Dominion University




The purpose of this study was to explore youth with disabilities’ perspectives of their experiences in integrated physical education classes in the United States. Participants were three youth with visual impairments and three youth with orthopedic impairments (ages 10-17 years). Data sources were written prompts; audio-recorded, semi-structured virtual interviews; and reflective notes. Based on a six-step thematic analysis method, four themes were developed: (a) “I couldn’t do most things”: lack of accommodations (b) “They had absolutely no clue”: the teacher’s role, (c) “I’m a scared boy”: concerns about injuries and unsafe activities, and (d) “I get to hang out with my friends”: interpersonal relationships and feelings of inclusion. Participants recalled experiencing a sense of belonging, acceptance, and value when experiencing positive interpersonal relationships. In contrast, a lack of accommodations, safety measures, and a perceived lack of teacher preparation made these feelings uncommon.