Integrating Students with Disabilities Into Physical Education

  1. The teacher should prepare the class for the integration of students by
    1. letting the students observe the special education classroom;
    2. establishing a Disabilities Awareness Week for the school;
    3. setting up simulations in physical education reflecting many different types of disabilities;
    4. having some students experiencing disabilities come into the gym and answer questions and share their thoughts with the class;
    5. procuring various media for use through the school which also stimulates good discussion;
    6. inviting physically challenged athletes to the school and hosting activities like wheelchair basketball, track and field;
    7. playing various physical education activities while assuming disabilities;
    8. sharing the limitations of the particular disability and reminding students that we all have limitations.
  2. The teacher can assist the physically challenged student by
    1. spending some time with the student to get acquainted prior to entering class;
    2. acquainting the student with the faculty before class begins;
    3. sharing the class expectations;
    4. establishing a "buddy" who can be of help if needed.
  3. The teacher should do the following:
    1. speak to previous special educators who have worked with the student;
    2. review the student's IEP and be aware of any unique needs;
    3. understand the disability;
    4. observe the child in another setting and assess his/her motorical needs once permission to evaluate has been given;
    5. see that the placement reflects the needs of the student;
    6. give the "buddy" efficient training so s/he feels comfortable with the student;
    7. establish a cooperative attitude towards mainstreaming within the physical education staff;
    8. train for inclusion not exclusion.
  4. Student expectations in the gymnasium:
    1. The rules of the gymnasium apply to all students. Consistency regarding behavior is very important.
    2. The student is expected to make an honest attempt at all appropriate activities.
    3. The student is encouraged to share his perceptions of his capabilities.
  5. The teacher should
    1. be aware not to put students into a situation that accentuates their disability;
    2. use all input modalities available -- auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic;
    3. use perception checks to insure the student understands;
    4. make appropriate provisions for adaptations or alterations before class, whenever possible;
    5. have enough equipment for all students;
    6. ignore non-compliant behavior and lead the student physically through the task, or refuse to let the child engage in activity until s/he follows through with the request. Reinforce all compliant behavior;
    7. ignore all self-indulgent behavior and reinforce immediately when it stops;
    8. discipline aggressive behavior that directly affects another student immediately and remove the student from the activity;
    9. develop a sequential list of the skills taught for each unit;
    10. determine entry level of all students;
    11. encourage the students to solve their own problems with the assistance of their classmates.
    12. teach stressing inclusion and avoid elimination type activities;
    13. develop a feeling for the purpose of the activity and encourage creativity in the approach to learning each activity;
    14. retain as much of the original activity as possible;
    15. feel free to change boundaries, size, weight, style of equipment, point systems, and the game itself (rules were not written with the physically challenged children in mind);
    16. stress ability, not disability when grouping students;
    17. think "handi-capable" not handicapped;
    18. think of a child as an individual with a handicap not as a handicapped child.
  6. The teacher establishes an educational environment which facilitates learning by
    1. modifying the activities to use the abilities of the students experiencing disabilities;
    2. equalizing competition by modifying activities;
    3. permitting substitution or interchange of duties;
    4. avoiding elimination type games and teaching to inclusion;
    5. encouraging cooperative games;
    6. maintaining contact with the individual, partner, small group, or object;
    7. limiting the playing area;
    8. changing the method of communication;
    9. changing the size and speed of equipment;
    10. using the problem solving approach to teaching.