Central IU 10: Helping Students with Disabilities Join Physical Education Classes

 The little boy learning to play kickball understood the kicking part but couldn’t grasp that he was supposed to run for first base after that.

In past years, the boy might have attended a separate physical education taught by the CIU 10’s physical education teacher. The IU has provided adapted physical education for students enrolled in IU classrooms. 
But increasingly, districts are turning to CIU 10 for help including students with disabilities in their own physical education classes.

Since 2013, several school districts in CIU 10  have sought consultation for 15-20 students, up from only one student the previous year, says Special Education Director Jennifer Starner.

In consultations, CIU 10’s physical education teacher assesses a student’s physical and behavioral capabilities and advises strategies for class participation.

Some students, such as the boy who didn’t understand the running part of kickball, get personal instruction in game rules before class, so they’re not left behind when the teacher starts explaining. Some need supplemental training to strengthen weak muscles. Others get special equipment, such as noise-making balls that students with visual impairments can hit, catch, or kick.

With Slippery Rock University, CIU 10 also offered teachers a professional development seminar in adapted physical education – a session so well received that they hope to offer more.

Healthy students do better in school and all areas of their lives, says Starner. Through adapted physical education, students with disabilities can set and reach goals for their personal health, and the goals become part of their IEPs.

“It really is about how to include kids in regular physical education, if possible, and make sure they’re really participating and not just observing or keeping score,” says Starner. “We want them to be as involved as much as they can be.”

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