Adaptive Physical Education

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Did you know that Physical Education (PE) is required by law and that adaptive PE should be on your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP)?  If your child is visually impaired, your Physical Educator can work with his/her Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) to meet the needs of your child.  Every child has a right to learn skills that their peers do and can leverage modified approaches to enhance their experience.

Some examples of adaptive Physical Education include:

  • Hockey - modify frisbee with bells underneath and use broomstick for swing

  • Tactile teaching and modeling (e.g. hand over hand with bat)

  • Wheelchair rugby

  • Nintendo wii tennis

  • Bat along table for swinging

  • Wedge mat for crunches

  • Ball filled with beads

  • Lay on bolster/peanut with arms forward and hands on the ground or put game/puzzle in front

  • Lay on scooter and pull forward with hula hoop

  • Rope across gym with carabiner/handle that slides along the rope

  • Contrast tape on floor of gym so clear about boundaries/lane

  • Rails along walls as a guide

  • Beeping box (sound source near target) at end of long jump or cone where to kick ball to provide orientation

When teaching a disabled child who may be visually impaired, there are various techniques one can use to help him/her understand the game.  First, model the field with a tactile representation such as a soccer field.  Then break down the sport into parts that can be assembled like ‘kick’ and ‘goal’.  Show the child the different objects in the game like the soccer ball.  Explain the activity before beginning the game and take additional time to teach the student.  

Another fun activity for young children is the parachute.  Visually impaired children will better understand when they are holding some piece of the parachute.  Move the parachute around to help orient the child to the entire parachute and explain all the colors.

There are many different physical education skills that can also be modified to help disabled children participate in various activities.  Here are skills and examples of how one could adapt these activities:

  • Hop: use trampoline to practice weight bearing and balance

  • Skip: Lift knee up to hit tambourine or 2 plates with beans inside

  • Gallop: Listen to sound of gallop; position toe of trailing foot to meet heel of lead foot

  • Glide: Slide together against wall or use guide wire

  • Leap: Step over rolled up towel or yoga mat; can practice this with a gait trainer

  • Strike: Sweep edge of palm along table to hit balloons; then add small ball to hit the balloon; hang a rope from the ceiling that holds ball

  • Stationery Dribble: create a balloon ball on string or large therapy ball/peanut ball

  • Catch: Whiffle ball with bells inside; roll ball across table

  • Throw: Trace arch on wall with cup or use ribbon/streamer to teach follow through with arm cross midline

You are the best advocate for your child and can help him/her to continually learn new skills.  Contact your Special Educator, Physical Education teacher, & Teacher of the Visually Impaired to leverage some of these ideas and develop the best plan that will meet his/her needs.