The physical education experiences of pupils with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: An ableism-critical perspective

Tania Rudd, Kirsty Hemingway, Benjamin Kirk, Anthony Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an ever-growing body of research relating to disabled pupils’ experiences of physical education (PE). However, our research is novel because it draws on an ableism-critical perspective to amplify the voices and centre the PE experiences of pupils with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). We used an online survey to gather quantitative and qualitative data from 100 participants with a diagnosis to explore their perceptions of: (a) the influence of JIA on participation in PE; (b) relationships with same-aged peers and their influence on experiences in PE; (c) relationships with teachers and their influence on experiences in PE; and (d) the appropriateness of the PE curriculum. Microsoft Excel was utilised to analyse quantitative data and produce descriptive statistics that were used to map views and experiences of PE, while qualitative data generated from open questions were analysed thematically. We discuss data in relation to the following themes: (a) pain, fatigue, and fear of injury restricted participation in PE; (b) awareness and (mis)understanding of JIA; (c) the negative judgements of others and peer bullying in PE; and (d) the (in)appropriateness of the PE curriculum. We end this article by emphasising the importance of disrupting ableist ideologies, discourses, and knowledge, particularly as these all relate to (mis)understandings of JIA and negative perceptions about the ability of such pupils in PE, because they are contributing to the marginalisation and ostracisation of pupils with JIA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-141
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

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