A social relational analysis of an impairment-specific mode of disability coach education

The purpose of this research was to analyse a mode of coach education provided by a major disability charity. The course was designed for sports coaches and physical activity professionals and focused on coaching people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The subsequent analysis drew on data obtained over two years, including participation observation, qualitative survey data and follow-up case study interviews. The research process was scaffolded by a level model approach. Data were analysed in an iterative fashion to generate themes representative of the process of coach learning in relation to discourses about disability, subsequently generating an understanding of the impact of disability coach education on coaches’ knowledge. To provide a level of abstraction and critical explanation, we drew on the work of Thomas and engaged with a social relational model of disability to analyse the formation and expression of coaching knowledge in relation to ASD. The analysis highlighted how coach education was an environment for the transmission of ideology about disability, that drew on medical model discourses and constrained coach learning, contributing to a ‘false’ ideology of inclusion.