Autism Spectrum Disorder and Physical Education
Presented by Adapted Physical Education Consultants:
Ann Griffin, Grant Wood AEA, Cedar Rapids, IA
Robin Olberding, Heartland AEA, Ames, IA
Physical education, specially designed if necessary, is required by Federal law for all students with disabilities.
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Special education is defined in the law as: specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or guardians, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including:
instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and
instruction in physical education
It is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine the appropriateness of the physical education placement. Team members should determine whether general physical education is appropriate (with or without modifications) or if specially designed instruction is needed. The team should seek the input of the building physical educator in making this decision.
Students with autism have difficulty with social interactions, play skills, communication, and making transitions. All of these skills can be addressed in the physical or adapted physical education setting.
What to teach – Selecting content
Directly teach play skills (turn taking, entering a game, waiting for a turn, finding a partner, changing partners…)
Directly teach equipment usage
Emphasize individual, partner, and small group activities
Think in terms of lifetime leisure activities and community based activities: billiards, bowling, weight training, golf…putt putt and driving range, sledding, canoeing, snowshoes, fishing, kite flying, walking, gymnastics, croquet, roller skating/blading, biking…