Inclusion is a philosophy seen in many schools that incorporate students with disabilities into a regular education setting. Including students with disabilities into general physical education can be challenging due to a number of barriers preventing kids with disabilities to be successful in general physical education class. These barriers can be a variety challenges related to the environment, task, over stimulation, under stimulation, navigating social challenges, or a variety of other challenges. However with the proper modifications and supports, children with disabilities can be very successful in general PE.
Students with disabilities will be much more successful with concrete specific directions. Asking a child to “stand over here” or “stand on the circle” can be challenging because this may be an abstract concept to them and they need a specific spot for them to sit or stand. Using poly spots or gym floor tape gives the child a specific spot you want them to stand at. Instead of using a regular boring poly spot, put their name on it or make if fun for them. By making it motivating to them, they will be more encouraged to stand in a specific spot and decrease the amount of time wandering or chasing the child around the gym. Also, sitting on the floor may not be comfortable for the child so a chair or alternative seat may encourage them to sit with their peers. Not only do visual markings such as spots or tape help a child stay in one spot, it may help them complete a task. For example placing a piece of tap on a child’s opposite foot, may help the child with opposition when throwing, rolling or striking. Another example of this could be if a child is running the PACER, they run between two spots instead of crossing in front of the other students running. If a child struggles transition from task to task, a visual timer may help them know when it’s time for the next activity.
Another common way to promote inclusion within general PE is altering the task or equipment the child is using. A student may benefit from throwing with a smaller object, striking with a larger implement, striking a lighter slowing moving object, making an object brighter so it’s easier to see, moving a child closer to a target, creating a larger target for the child to hit, changing the texture of the object making it more appealing to the child, giving the child a softer object, or allowing the child to work on the side doing an alternative task that still allows the child to practice what his or her peers are doing. Asking the child what he or she likes makes the changing the task or equipment specific to that child. Some kids may see a certain color better than other or some may like hearing a specific noise as auditory feedback to help them complete a task. Finally,, technology is a way to better engage students and make tasks more fun. Showing the child a video of yourself completing a task or taking videos of the child is a fun way to give them feedback on their performance. Various apps allow one to set up schedules for students and show them specifically what they need to do.
When including a child with a disability in general physical education modifications or adaptations may be needed to allow that child to be successful. Those modifications will be unique to the child, and many factors must be taken into consideration when making a modification. However, the modification should not impede or disrupt the learning of his or her peers in the class. Changing the task, rules, equipment, directions, ways in which you communicate, or giving the child his or her own work spot are a few simple way to promote inclusion within general PE.