Psycho-pedagogical support of development and correction psycho-functional and physical abilities within socialization of mentally retarded children


Associate Professor, Dr.Sc.Psych. E.A. Shmeleva2
Professor, Dr.Hab. M.A. Pravdov2
Associate Professor, Dr.Sc.Psych. P.A. Kislyakov1
Associate Professor, PhD A.V. Kornev1
1Russian State Social University, Moscow
2Ivanovo State University, Shuya

Keywords: adaptive physical education, psychological and pedagogical support, mentally retarded children, psycho-functional and physical abilities, socialization, volunteering.

Introduction. Correction and development of their motor, mental and speech capacities are a priority in the system of medical, psychological and pedagogical activities involving mentally retarded children. Despite a fairly large number of developed physical education programs for children with health impairments, introduction of the federal education standards for children with health limitations, experience of their practical implementation and testing of various techniques have not been duly reflected in the system of special (adjusted) education. One of the central problems of physical education of mentally retarded children is their insufficient involvement in systematic physical education lessons and sports as well as a child’s motor activity maintenance throughout a school day.   

In case of intellectual incapacity along with motor disturbances adaptive physical education is important, promoting development of motor skills, coordination, attention, flexibility of mental processes and enhancement of the overall physical health of children. Therefore, it is motor activity that promotes development of all the systems and functions of the body, correction, compensation and prevention of motor and mental disorders, education of an individual that is the main mechanism of socialization of mentally retarded children [2, 5].

Objective of the research was to scientifically substantiate the effectiveness of the implementation of the project "World of movements - millions of opportunities", which aims at social integration and adaptation of children with health impairments by means of adaptive physical education and sport.  

Research methods and organization. The project "World of movements - millions of opportunities" (2015-2016) is being implemented as part of network cooperation of scholars of Russian State Social University and Ivanovo State University at the premises of the type VIII special boarding school in Shuya. It is aimed at addressing a number of tasks of development and correction of psycho-functional and physical abilities of mentally retarded children. The project was approved by the Fund for support of Children who have found themselves in a difficult life situation and is focused on ensuring their ultimate development, socialization, preparation for an independent life and social integration. The project target group consisted of 60 mentally retarded children including children with impairments, aged 7 to 12, 53 families. A multifaceted service of social integration and adaptation of children with health impairments by means of adaptive physical education and sports was created at the school within the framework of the project with educators, psychologists, health practitioners, physical education teachers and sport instructors involved in it.

When analyzing the characteristics of the families with children studying in a special boarding school, we paid attention to family life conditions of each subject, so we could develop individual programs of working with the families. With a view of organizing child's motor activity in the family an advisory service «My home training» and a children and parents club «From heart to heart» were created; classes with children and their parents are conducted. Based on the study of problems and analysis of parents' needs as well as the children's fitness level the following programs were developed and are being implemented: «Let's Move Together», a program plan of the training process for children to participate in the Special Olympics competitions in application to different sports; a program plan “Health School” on hygienic education and training of families having children with health impairments; a program plan “Safe wheel” for group and individual classes with children and their parents promoting road safety, preventing traffic accidents involving children and forming the healthy and safe lifestyle culture.     

In the process of implementation of the project the following methods and techniques were developed and are being used:

the technology of formation and correction of motor actions geared to create special conditions using original simulators and non-standard sport facilities for exercising and formation of motor actions (walking, running, climbing, throwing, jumping, etc) children with health impairments need to live and act;

the methodology of development and correction of psycho-functional and physical abilities that ensures replenishment of deficiency of physical vigor and development of psycho-functional systems of children, with the inclusion of external power and resistance components (weights, rubber bands, friction forces, etc), sensory stimuli and orientation cues into the process of movement performance. Contrast exposure techniques are used in this method: thermal («warm - cold»), light («light - dark», «bright - dull»), color («spectrum»), aroma («pleasant - unpleasant»), sound («loud - quiet»), tactile («smooth - rough», «soft - hard», «sharp - dull») and kinesthetic impact («strongly - weakly») on the child’s sensory systems of the body affecting the intensity of the analyzing systems of the body. Equipment made of various natural and synthetic materials (wood, stone, water, ice, sand, fire, paint, music, fabric, plastic, etc.) is used;

diagnostic and monitoring technologies for the psycho-functional state of children: functional brain features, psycho-functional state, muscular system, psychomotor reactions, sociometry using computer testing systems «NS-Psychotest», «VNS-Spectrum» and others;

the technology of safe interaction in society with regards to formation of orientation skills in the immediate circle, life safety insurance and psychological culture development (mastery of psychic self-regulation techniques; establishment of contact and constructive dialogue).

As part of the project three compulsory physical education classes (in accordance with the curriculum) and two additional one - as extra-curricular activities - were conducted within a school week. Additional classes were planned with regard to the interests of the schoolchildren and took place in the form of adaptive motor recreation. A sport complex was equipped for conducting the classes that includes the following: sensory and motor fitness equipment, an obstacle course, running sand, pebble and grass tracks, soft gaming modules, fitballs, a ball pit, mini trampolines, carpeted floor, etc. The following non-standard sport equipment and training devices were developed: “hanging balls” used to learn throwing and catching; special markings for feet on the floor, “cuffs for attaching rubber interarticular straps for movement correction”; “harnesses to simulate motions in the air”; “sensory bands” for correction of walking and running.  

Personality-centered approach and individual support of a child by his “personal trainer” – a tutor from student volunteers majoring in physical education and sports, adaptive physical education and sports – is the basis of sport and recreational work with children. In order to develop tutoring skills the students underwent a “Personal trainer” training program. “Tutor – child” pairing is based on the tutor’s experience of working with children of specific nosological groups, the degree of matching of the psycho-pedagogical diagnostics data of each as well as their desire to train with each other. Trained student volunteers together with the teacher ensure compliance with the principle of individualization in terms of volume, intensity, rest time and movements adjustment while working with the children [1, 3, 6].

Research results and discussion. Improved physical characteristics were detected: speed – by 4-5% of the initial indices; coordination abilities – by 15-17%; strength – by 12-14%; flexibility – by 36% and endurance – by 23%. Self-control over the observance of correct posture improved. 95% of the children learned how to do the spinal curvature prevention exercises properly. Collective interaction is observed in children during outdoor games, they help and assist each other.     

Sport equipment made it possible to broaden the range of children’s motor actions, their socio-role interactions, contributing to team building, improvement of the children’s sociometric status, removal of psychological barriers (aggressiveness, anxiety, and emotional instability). Regular participation of the student volunteers in the classes served as an impetus for the development of communication skills of the children, expansion of the scope of their contacts and their readiness for conflict-free communication and behavior. School psychological service notes development of mental processes in schoolchildren (perception, attention, imagination and thinking). Parameters of self-management, self-control, adequate self-esteem and self-regulation of behavior improved. Developed reflection, anticipation and self-analysis ensured formation of the skills of safe behavior in society in the target group children [4]. Parents note emerging bright associations with regards to school studies, physical education classes, communication of pupils and teachers in their children. School speech therapist notes an increase in the intensity of speech functions of the children, improvement of grammatical and lexical aspects of their speech.  

It should be noted that motivation for physical education and sport activities of the children attending adaptive motor recreation sessions during the school year changed: the number of children attending the lessons because of a social motive – that is, communication - halved (11%), the number of children motivated to reach a particular result increased by 3 times (27%), 17% of children indicated health improvement as their motive. A study of children’s motivation revealed that in case of optimally arranged work in the sphere of physical education and sport aimed, first and foremost, at the interests of the children, it is possible to influence their motivation for engagement in motor activity that forms their behavior which is manifested in more precise performance of exercises, health improvement awareness, physical fitness enhancement, etc. Student volunteers learnt to develop motor abilities in boarding school pupils with the help of various technologies and techniques of adaptive physical education and sports; organize sport joint and individual activities of the schoolchildren according to age norms for their development; hold competitions, monitor psycho-functional state of children, ensure their social and personal safety. 

Conclusion. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the project effectiveness enables us to ascertain an increase of motivation for learning, interest in physical education and sports, emotional disposition to study and a desire to go to school in mentally retarded children. There is an increased interest in various types of physical activity, awareness of successful performance of physical tasks and motor skills. Maximum potential taking into account the children’s disease was revealed. All this contributed to improving the quality of social and educational services, and thereby to reduction of the incidence of child and family problems. As a result of the project implementation an open health and fitness environment of the remedial boarding school was created, sport and recreational equipment was upgraded taking into account development and correction of the child's motor abilities.  

The article describes the project "World of movements - millions of opportunities", which aims at social integration and adaptation of children with health impairments by means of adaptive physical education and sport. The project implies development of the content of psychological and pedagogical follow-up of development and correction of psycho-functional and physical abilities, social integration and adaptation of mentally retarded children. The researchers described the technologies and methods of work with mentally retarded children in the adaptive motor recreation environment such as: technology of formation and correction of motor actions, methods of development and correction of psycho-functional and physical abilities, psycho-functional state diagnostic and monitoring techniques, safe social interaction technologies. Experimental diagnostic data of physical fitness and physical training motivation among children are provided.
The effective implementation of the socialization project for mentally retarded children implies courseware and material and technical support of the educational process; special (adjusted) educational technologies and techniques; health and fitness tutoring; integration of academic and extra-curricular activities.
It has been established that the practical solution of these problems in the networking of university and a remedial boarding school enhances the efficiency of the project social and educational activities for both socialization of children and their mental and physical development, as well as for forming professional and social competences of pupils, encouraging them to find their own results of health and fitness activities.


  1. Berezkin I.S. Sotsial'no-pedagogicheskiy potentsial universiteta v rabote s det'mi-invalidami (Socio-pedagogical potential of university in work with impaired children) / I.S. Berezkin, S.N. Solyarskaya, A.V. Kornev, E.A. Shmeleva // Nauka i shkola. – 2007. – № 6. – P.31-33.
  2. Vanyushkin V.A. Issledovanie razvitiya koordinatsionnykh sposobnostey i psikhicheskikh funktsiy u detey s legkoy stepeniyu umstvennoy otstalosti (Study of development of coordination abilities and mental functions in children with mild mental retardation) / V.A. Vanyushkin, I.A. Tretyakova // Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. – 2011. – № 2. – P. 40-44.
  3. Zamogil'nov A.I. Uchitel' fizicheskoy kul'tury kak subiekt innovatsionnoy obrazovatel'noy sredy (Physical Education Teacher as subject of innovative educational environment) / A.I. Zamogil'nov, M.A. Pravdov, E.A. Shmeleva // Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. – 2013. – № 3. – P. 30-35.
  4. Kislyakov P.A. Obespechenie sotsial'no-psikhologicheskoy bezopasnosti subiektov obrazovaniya (Social psychological safety of subjects of education) / P.A. Kislyakov, E.A. Shmeleva, S.N. Tolstov // Voprosy psikhologii. – 2015. – № 5. – P. 46-55.
  5. Kornev A.V. Motivatsiya detey s umstvennoy otstalostiyu k fizkul'turno-sportivnoy deyatel'nosti v usloviyakh adaptivnoy dvigatel'noy rekreatsii (Motivating mentally retarded children for sports activity in adaptive motor recreation environment) / A.V. Kornev, M.A. Pravdov, E.A. Shmeleva // Nauchny poisk. – 2015. – № 2.2. – P. 74-77.
  6. Shmeleva E.A. Psychological factors of the readiness of teachers to ensure social security in the educational environment / E.A. Shmeleva, P.A. Kislyakov, L.D. Maltseva, L.F. Luneva // Psychology in Russia: State of the Art. 2015. V. 8. № 1. P. 74-85.