Problems of Social Adaptation of Children and Youth with Disabilities

Problems of Social Adaptation of Children and Youth with Disabilities


E.M. Golikova, associate professor, Ph.D.
P.P. Tissen, associate professor, Ph.D.
Orenburg state pedagogical university, Orenburg

Key words: social adaptation, handicapped children and youth, motor activity.

Introduction. The last decade in the Russian Federation was characterized by its special system of support and assistance for children and youth with disabilities. The positive trends in settling the issue of social adaptation of handicapped children and youth are reflected in the government programs such as "Accessible environment" (up to 2015), in the federal laws "On education in the Russian Federation" and "Concerning social protection of disabled persons in the Russian Federation", in national programs of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation and in provisions for educational institutions.

Regional programs with regard to the education and development of handicapped children are also being developed dynamically in the modern society. Great attention is paid to special (corrective) education. The Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as the Law of the RF "On education in the RF" guarantee every citizen's right to education, including that of children with disabilities inseparably linked with the educational system as a whole. However, the problem of children's and youth's social adaptation remains unsolved. Many children and youth fail to adapt to the changing social environment after graduating from an educational institution, and the biosocial balance is disturbed, as is the ability related to the personality formation. Adults organize the lives of children, arranging their upbringing in the socially allocated children’s institutions [12]. Still, health-related disabilities leave their own mark when it comes to personality development, creating personal orientations, selection of a line of conduct.

The most important aspect is the creation of conditions for the personality development of handicapped children and youth during the implementation of the strategy of social adaptation. However, the implementation of a high-quality vital activity of a handicapped person is possible if he intends to regulate his own actions, directing him not only towards the achievement of his own plans, but also his abidance all of the accepted rules (norms). The basis of control of the process of social adaptation applies to the main goals; correlation between the principles and methods of impact, that is of the general course of the problem's solving.

In relation to these, changing (regulating) conditions of the social environment affect the process of a growing person's personality development, his accepting a specific socio-cultural sphere, on which the character of social adjustment (adaptation) is reliant.

Adaptation is a condition of dynamic correspondence and balance between the living system (a person) and the external environment. The classic definition of adaptation by Aizenk G. (1972) is as follows:

1) a condition in which individual’s needs, on the one hand, and environmental requirements, on the other, are completely complacent (harmonic condition between an individual and nature or social environment);

2) a process through which this harmonic condition is achieved [5].

Adaptive changes in the health state are more or less conscious ones, which a personality has to undergo as a result of transformation, of a situational change [8]. Handicapped youth and children do not always adapt successfully (they can't take advantage of the conditions for the realization of their own goals, values and aspirations). Antisocial personality disorders, mental disorders, social neglect and physical ill-being, which trouble and make specialists develop methods of social adaptation, are being formed against this background. Social adaptation is person’s constructive activity, process of human adaptation to changing social environment with the help of various social means. The process of social adaptation is dependent on the prospects of the survivability's improvement, and appears as a prerequisite for ensuring the human optimal socialization.

Researches carried out in the field of psychology, pedagogy, medicine, physiology, theory and methods of physical education, sociology, etc. indicate the complexity and importance of the period related to adaptation [1, 3, 4]. Adaptive processes take place at various levels: at the molecular and the cellular one, at the level of separate functions, organs, whole organism and determinate systems. Depending on this, the authors, having researched the problems of adaptation, allocate the following types of it: biological, physiological, social, psychological, mental, sensory, professional, artistic, educational, literary, technical and linguistic.

Numerous studies enabled scientists [6, 7, 10] to reveal the essence of adaptation of handicapped children and contributed to I.P. Pavlov's conclusion [2] of the direct dependence of mental activity on the physical fitness level. The terms of adaptation of handicapped children and youth may vary, as the process depends on an organ's and/or a system's damage [6], on possible secondary pathology and comorbidities, preceding social and motor experiences, psychoemotional state, functional disorders, age, etc. In particular, motor activity, as the most potent physiological stimulus stimulating normal vital activity, plays a major role in the adequate formation and development of body’s potentials [2]. Motor activity appears to be an innate, vitally important human need, the level of satisfaction of which largely determines the amount of motor activity. There is an optimum level for each and every age. As to motor activity within the boundaries of levels lower than optimum, a delay in growth and development is evidenced, the adaptive capacity of an organism being reduced as well [9]. Motor deficit among children with disabilities leads to pronounced functional and morphological changes, affecting the process of social adaptation (physiological, psychological, psychosocial). Being aware of the physiological principles, we are able to skilfully manage the process of psychophysical adaptation by developing motor activity of handicapped children.

Psychophysical adaptation is a continuous process which, along with mental adaptation (that is maintenance of psychic homeostasis), includes two aspects:

  • optimization of the individual's continuous interaction with the environment;
  • establishment of adequate correspondence of mental and physiological characteristics, contributing thus to potential progress [14].

The purpose of the study was to analyze the issue of social adaptation of handicapped children and youth.

Organization of the study. A theoretical and practical centre of adaptive sport and physical rehabilitation was established to settle the issue of social adaptation of handicapped children and youth based on Orenburg state pedagogical university. Adaptive physical culture is the priority area of the educational system of this category of child and youth population, which is regarded as a part of culture in general, a subsystem of physical culture, the socially organized institute, the sphere of social activity, which is aimed at meeting the needs of handicapped persons with regard to motor activity, recovery, health strengthening and promotion, personality development, self-realization of physical and spiritual forces. The goals, objectives and main directions of social adaptation are observed in the strategy, taking advantage of the technologies of the adaptive motor recreation for children and youth with disabilities in the Orenburg region. The purpose of the strategy is to create conditions that will enable handicapped children and youth to lead a healthy way of life, be regularly engaged in physical culture and sport using technologies of motor recreation adapted to a number of motor, functional and intellectual aberrations, get the opportunity to communicate with their peers and improve their quality of life. Among the main issues of the strategy, which need to be addressed in order for the set goal to be achieved, are the following: creation of an innovative project on social adaptation of handicapped children and youth; carrying-out of a monitoring process, using the latest approaches of combined diagnostics; testing of technologies of social adaptation, using the means as well as the methods of motor recreation; development of a matrix scheme with regard to adaptive motor recreation.

With regard to the development of social adaptation of the Orenburg population categories that was examined, main strategic benchmarks are as follows:

  • increase in the ratio of handicapped children and youth demonstrating interrelation with the surrounding environment and social setting;
  • increase in the ratio of handicapped children and youth demonstrating social activity as well as activity-like attitude to the world;
  • increase in the ratio of handicapped children and youth striving to broaden their social cotacts and interpersonal interactions;
  • abatement of the negative effect that health abnormalities have on social adaptation, physical health, way of life;
  • expansion of social contacts of children and youth with family and society;
  • formation of social norms, social health of a personality in pedagogically organized conditions;
  • increase in the ratio of handicapped children and youth regularly engaged in physical culture and sport;
  • achievement of the amount of motor activity of handicapped children and youth;
  • providing the availability of facilities, equipment and inventory in view of functional disorders, physical qualities and intellectual capacity, motor experience.

The developed new system of social adaptation of children and youth with disabilities, on the basis of motor recreation's technologies, includes the following orientations: usage of the latest approaches of combined diagnostics of handicapped children and youth; monitoring of social adaptation; development of a unique system for the coordination and planning of the process of social adaptation; development of a matrix of technologies of handicapped children and youth's adaptive motor recreation. The presented array of measures in the strategy includes: organization and carrying-out of culture and recreational activities; development of educational programs for carrying-out of recreational activities based on the concept of social adaptation of handicapped children and youth; organization and conduct of touristic and recreational activities; rebuilding of the sports-cultural image of handicapped children and youth via forms of intellectual creativity (education, science); provision of cultural and recreational activities for the purpose of handicapped children and youth's social adaptation and integration to a normative educational environment.

One of priority orientations is organization of sports and physical culture/recreational activity for handicapped people in the Orenburg region, research and practical activity in the regional educational environment.

Classes on adaptive physical culture and training of athletes with disabilities are being carried out within the framework of enhancement of social adaptation. The developed and implemented programs for the development of physical culture and sport among people with disabilities in the Orenburg region are ascertained by the results of sports work in the following types of sports: deaf sport, blind sport, sport for people with spinal cord injuries. Festivals, spartakiads and competitions held in the centre have a starting character for many young athletes with disabilities for their participation in sports activities in Russia, Europe, on the world level and in Paralympic and Surdolympic games.

Scientific-methodical support is among the most important orientations of the centre, including: theoretical and experimental researches; development of scientific programs; testing and introduction of means and methods of adaptive physical culture; carrying-out of international, interdisciplinary scientific-practical conferences, forums, seminars, conferences and exhibitions in the areas of science's development. The creation of the information environment for the activity of various services, organizations working with handicapped people, families raising children with disabilities as well as consulting and information services extend the sphere of activity of citizens in need through the realization of their social potential. The centre is developing and implementing additional medium-term educational programs for all handicapped children and youth.

Results and discussion. Sports and fitness activities being carried out with children with visual (blind, visually impaired, late-onset blind persons) and hearing (deaf, hearing-impaired, persons with late onset deafness) impairments; mentally retarded; spinal cord injuries (cerebral palsy, amputation, spinal injury etc.) and other disturbances or abnormalities contributes to an earlier social adaptation. The information and advisory activities of the Centre is intended to give professional advise on medical rehabilitation measures, testing of athletes, designing recommendations for training programs consumers, as well as general rules for their effective application. Therefore, it is strategically important to settle the issue of social adaptation of handicapped children and youth to social norms without limiting the range of manifestation of personal liberty of an individual. The expected outcome of the Centre are the ones involved in physical culture and sport; formation of the public opinion on the need for leading a healthy way of life and more active older generation of the Orenburg region, the degree of awareness and knowledge on the methods of social adaptation of people with disabilities.

Conclusion. The absence of such an important element as physical culture from the life of a teen and, especially, a pupil with health disorders, may be a risk factor complicating the adaptation process.

The use of adaptive physical culture in the educational system enables a child to improve his social status, psycho-emotional state, increase motor capacity and maintain health, the value of which has historically been shaped into the state cultural heritage aiming at the perfection of the man himself. The role of physical culture in the education of handicapped children and youth is one of the most important ones.  For many people, it is the very adaptive physical culture alone that helps to acquire social experience in new knowledge, motor abilities and skills, development and improvement of special physical and mental qualities, communication and finding new friends. The presented social adaptation strategy for handicapped children and youth strikes as being a framework covering the impact of the environment, upbringing and education, leading to high-quality social indicators of a person's harmony with the environment.



  1. Andreeva, G.M. Social psychology: textbook for higher school / G.M. Andreeva. – Moscow: Aspekt-Press, 2003. – 357 P. (In Russian)
  2. Bazarny, V.F. School stress and demographic catastrophe in Russia. / V.F. Bazarny. – Moscow: Sergiev Posad, 2004. – 96 P. (In Russian)
  3. Balashova, E.Yu. Success in teaching schoolchildren under modern conditions / E.Yu. Balashova// Pedagogika i psikhologiya. – 2008. – № 10. – P. 36–38. (In Russian)
  4. Bokhovich, L.I. Personality and its formation in the childhood / L.I. Bokhovich. – Moscow: Prosveschenie, 2008. – 398 P. (In Russian)
  5. Varlamova, A.Ya. School adaptation of adolescents / A.Ya. Varlamova. – Volgograd, 2001. – 140 P. (In Russian)
  6. Vikhruk, T.I. The basics of teratology and hereditary pathology: study guide / T.I. Vikhruk / Ed. by V.A. Lisovsky, E.B. Sologub. – Moscow: Sovetsky sport, 2001. – 208 P. (In Russian)
  7. Golikova, E.M. Complex rehabilitation of children aged 7-8 with bronchial asthma during school adaptation: Ph.D. thesis / E.M. Golikova. – Moscow, 2009. – P. 16–22. (In Russian)
  8. Golikova, E.M. Psychological-educational support of handicapped children: monograph / E.M. Golikova / Ed. by O.I. Kirikov. – Voronezh: Publ. h-se of VSPU, 2009. – P. 403–413. (In Russian)
  9. Correctional action games and exercises for retarded children / Ed. by L.V. Shapkova. – Moscow: Sovetsky sport, 2002. – 212 P.
  10. Lil’in, E.T.  Children rehabilitology / E.T. Lil’in, V.A. Doskin. – Moscow: Litera, 2011. – 640 P. (In Russian)


Author’s contacts: