Adapted Physical Education in the Special Education Process

Adapted Physical Education in the Special Education Process

Scott Mcnamara, Cheng-Chen Pan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1431-3.ch004
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Adapted physical education (APE) services have the same overall objectives as general physical education; however, adapted physical educators should implement accommodations and modifications to personalize the programs to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. Because of the high levels of health disparity for people with disabilities, as well as cognitive and socio-emotional benefits associated with physical activity and exercise, it is crucial that students with disabilities receive high-quality APE programming. To give the readers a broad overview of APE and how it should be implemented, this chapter covers the following topics: physical education and physical literacy, the benefits of physical education and exercise for students with disabilities, federal laws in relation to physical education for students with disabilities, the role of adapted physical educators in interdisciplinary team approaches within the individualized education program process, and highlighting specialized teaching strategies and specialized equipment for students with disabilities.
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Physical Education And Physical Literacy

Physical education is an important academic subject that ‘provides students with a planned, sequential, K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence’ (Society of Health and Physical Educators [SHAPE America], 2013). Within the development of the most recent version of SHAPE America’s national standards, it is explained that the primary goal of physical education is to develop physically literate students. Physical literacy is defined as ‘the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person” (Mandigo. Francis, Lodewyk, & Lopez, 2009, p. 28). Although this definition was originally developed specifically for Canadian physical educators, it has been adopted by several other nations (e.g., New Zealand, Netherlands, and United Kingdom). For example, physical literacy is depicted within SHAPE America’s (2013)National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education as:

  • Attaining of motor skill competence,

  • Understanding of movement concepts (e.g., skipping, throwing),

  • Acquiring the knowledge needed to achieve and maintain a healthy level of physical activity and fitness,

  • Exhibiting person and social responsibility, and

  • Recognizing the value of physical activity for both personal and social benefits.

It is important for schools, and the teachers within these schools, to focus on the holistic development of their students. A holistic student development approach emphasizes teaching to a variety of learning styles, developing students’ social-emotional intelligence and identities, and building a sense of belonging across classes and within their school. Physical education, which has a primary goal to develop physically literate students, also supports the holistic development of students by addressing three crucial learning domains within the physical education curriculum:

  • Cognitive or mental skills related to the knowledge of movement;

  • Affective, which address growth in feelings or attitudes; and

  • Psychomotor, which relates to the manual or physical skills related to movement literacy (SHAPE America, 2013, p. 4).

SHAPE Standards

The most recent version of SHAPE America’s (2013) national standards provides a comprehensive overview of the content needed for students, with and without disabilities, to successfully attain the physical education curriculum. In addition, these standards provide physical educators and adapted physical educators with a tool to assist them to plan curricula, develop meaningful goals and objectives, and assess students’ progress across grade levels. The five national standards developed by SHAPE America are:

  • Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.

  • Standard 2: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics related to movement and performance.

  • Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

  • Standard 4: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.

  • Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cardiovascular Fitness: Ability of the heart and lungs to work together to provide oxygen/fuel to the body during physical activity

Muscular Endurance: Ability of the muscles to perform without fatigue/exhaustion

Body Composition: Amount of fat mass compared to lean muscle mass

Flexibility: Ability to move through the available range of motion

Physical Literacy: The ability to competently move and engage in a variety of physical activities across multiple environments and contexts that benefit the healthy development of a student

Adapted Physical Education: A direct service that is best described as the development and implementation of a specially-designed physical education program that meets a student with a disability’s unique needs

Muscular Strength: Amount of force a muscle can produce

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