Physical education is required by federal law to be provided to all public school students, including special needs students. However, some special needs students may struggle to keep up in the normal physical education setting, may be slower at some sports or may have problems with coordination due to poorly formed gross or fine motor skills. These students should be routinely assessed by an appropriate individual to determine whether they need an adaptive program.
Adapting Physical Education for Students with Special Needs
The teachers can change how they teach the activity. They may need to provide more signs and signals as they teach the exercise rather than just telling the student using words. They may also change the rules to certain games to allow children of varying levels of physical and mental strength to participate. They are allowed to make changes in the equipment that is used. They may need to choose balls that are bigger or smaller than normal depending on the child’s motor skills. They may also need to use equipment with certain colors or may need to allow children with physical disabilities to use assistive devices during physical education class. Finally, these teachers may need to use a different type of environment for adaptive physical education classes. Standard gymnasiums or outdoor playing fields may not be appropriate for all students. These spaces may provide too much stimulation or be too difficult to navigate with assistive devices.
The attorneys at Newman Aaronson Vanaman are committed to advocating for special education students’ rights throughout every aspect of the child’s education, including in physical education. This is a vital part of school that helps children learn new sports, become more physically fit and interact well with others. Parents who feel that their children are not in the least restrictive environment possible during physical education class or who do not know if their children have received the appropriate assessment can contact one of our attorneys who will help advocate for the special needs freedoms that the child deserves.