Adapted Physical Education

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E D U C A T I O N A L  R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S

What should your physical educator do?


Children who have problems moving or coordinating movement may be eligible for specialized programming called adapted physical education.


Make sure your child’s assessment includes a motor assessment of any or all of the following: play skills, motor skills, development, and fitness. Younger children tend to be integrated in general classes without any regard for how the child will fit in to a general curriculum. At the Individualized education meeting and pre assessment meeting make sure you have information on your child’s motor performance and the curriculum for the general class. Some physical education programs focus a lot on basic movements and rhythms that lend themselves to diverse learners. Other programs focus a lot on competition and learning sport skills. You are an expert on your child and can provide information on your child’s experiences with physical activities.


For children with severe disabilities and limitations in movement options, adapted physical education programming should focus on developing skills that can be used at home and into adulthood. Some activities may be fun for your child but have little value outside of the physical education setting. Some suggested activities that are useful at home and in the community into adulthood include swimming, walking, leisure activities such as archery or bowling may also fit your family’s physical activity options. Communicate with the adapted physical educator what types of things you do at home and see if she can incorporate these into your child’s program. 


Functional Behavior assessment is a process where educators and behavior specialists work together to find out the function of a child’s poor behavior. This usually involves the following steps: 1) collect historical or background info, 2) Identify the behavior, 3) Observe the child, 3) Generate a hypothesis for why the behavior is occurring, 4) test the hypothesis and determine the function of the behavior. There are many sources on line for this info and your school district personnel should be familiar with this process.


What if my child is integrated in the regular program?


Makes sure any accommodations such as a classroom assistant follow the child to the physical education setting. This is particularly important if the child has behavior needs. Physical educators may lack experience in behavior management and also teach in a very open and stimulating environment. If a child is impulsive in the classroom, he may also be impulsive in the gymnasium.


Ask to observe your child in physical education to see if she is actually participating or simply standing around learning to look active when in fact she is not. Physical education is unique in comparison to other curricular areas since all can see the child’s performance. In math class only the teacher and child know the child’s performance in most situations, in physical education there is no “hiding”. Poor performance affects each child differently. Some try harder, others “shutdown”. Know how your child is responding and don’t wait for the teacher to tell you of problems, look for yourself.