Adaptation of Games and Activities for Students with Disabilities

  1. Most children that experience permanent disabilities will have already developed necessary modifications to permit their participation in certain activities. All of these children need to proceed at their own rate of involvement. If they experience difficulty or cannot make the necessary adjustments, step in and assist.
  2. Adaptations must be made to suit the student's abilities rather than his/her disabilities.
  3. Modifications of game rules should not be discouraged and should be regulated to meet the needs of the group.
  4. Try not to change a game to such a degree that the children lose sight of what they started to play.
  5. When working with a new student, begin slowly, and gradually introduce new activities. Keep in mind the student may have some fear of new experiences, may become embarrassed, or may display a lack of initiative.
Methods of modifying games and activities:
  1. Reduce the size of the playing area.
    1. Change the boundary lines.
    2. Increase the number of players.
    3. Decrease the height of the net or goal.
    4. Use equipment that will reduce the range of play.
    5. Net-type games may be played through a hoop displayed from ceiling.
  2. Use lighter equipment.
    1. Plastic bats, "whiffle" type balls.
    2. Large plastic beach balls, bladder balls.
    3. Yarn balls, styrofoam balls, Nerf balls, Itsa balls.
  3. Slow down moving objects.
    1. Change the throwing style to underhand.
    2. Throw ball with one bounce.
    3. Roll the ball.
    4. Stationary ball: place it on home plate or on a batting tee.
    5. Increase the size of the ball.
    6. Decrease the weight of the ball.
    7. Decrease the air pressure within the ball.
  4. Modify the rules.
    1. Sit down or lie down rather than stand.
    2. Walk rather than strike.
    3. Kick rather than strike.
    4. Throw or strike rather than kick.
    5. Permit additional trials: sticks, throws, jumps.
    6. Allow for substitutions.
    7. Reduce the time periods of the game.
    8. Reduce the number of points required to win.
  5. Provide additional rest periods.
    1. Discuss rule infractions.
    2. Discuss strategy and team play.
    3. Rotate players in and out of the game.
    4. Reduce the time periods of the game.
    5. Provide quiet type games which keep the student busy during the rest periods: Nok-hockey, box soccer, darts, ring toss, etc.
Modification of games and activities for exceptional children:

As a rule, activities are selected from those which are most age appropriate for students.

Specific adaptations of individual and dual sports:

Archery:Use lighter bow, rubber tips for arrow. Sitting position, draw targets.
Bait-fly Casting:Place target boards on gym floor or field at various distances. Sitting position.
Badminton:Four players on each side, each playing zone. "Hoopbird" played with birds or yarn ball. Sitting wheelchair/chair position.
Bicycling:Use of tandem, three-wheeler.
Bowling:Use plastic detergent bottles or milk cartons. Student may bowl from a chair or sit on the floor. Roll ball through cardboard tube, box, or down a ramp.
Croquet:Use plastic mallets and whiffle balls; vary the distance to wicket.
Gymnastics:Tumbling, parallel bars, high bar, rings, side horse.
Golf:Hit plastic practice ball into old tennis volley nets which are faced with burlap. Make miniature golf course from odds and ends.
Handball:One wall, use partially deflated volleyball or smaller playground ball to slow the action of the game.
Horseshoes:Rubber shoes can be used in and out of doors. Throw shoes into a box. Sitting position.
Roller-skating:Use a walker, scooters, or even wheelchair.
Shuffleboard:Shorten distance between scoring zones. Sitting position.
Swimming:American Red Cross -- Adapted Aquatics and Methods Manual for Swimming for the Handicapped. 1991.
Table Tennis:Use large paddles, make small table-size hoop and play as "hoopbird."  Place plywood on sides of the table so the ball will not bounce off of the tables as often.
Tetherball:Sit or stand, punch or kick. Make small table size game with broomstick and small rubber ball in a silk stocking.
Quiet Games:Nok-hockey, table shuffleboard, pool, darts, bean bag toss gems, box soccer, Frisbee, etc.

Adapting Team Sports:

Baseball/Softball type games:Use light bats or whiffle balls, batting tee. Use base runner, two sets of bases (one shorter distances), throw ball into the field rather than bat it. Give students positions that require little movement.
Kickball:Punch or throw the ball rather than kick it. Place ball on home plate rather than roll it.
Basketball type games:Limit movement in the game by playing 21, Around the World, Six Court, Halfcourt, Scooter Basketball, Foul shooting, Barrelball. Have student do the foul shooting for both teams. Paint/paper backboards same colors as teams -- do not switch baskets.
Soccer/Hockey type games:Have student play goalie. Reduce size of the goal. Scooter games punching a playground ball, Hockey played with the old brooms and volleyball. Barrelball shooting for hole.
Volleyball type games:Deck tennis, use larger soft bladderball or beachball. Have both teams sit on floor, put net at 4-5 feet high.

Rhythms and Other Easy-To Integrate Activities

Outdoor recreation:hiking, canoeing
Track and Field:distance dependent on student abilities
Cross country skiing 
Parachute activities 
New games:cooperation activities
Dance:Creative, folk dance, Disco-Hustle, Bump, Freestyle, bunny hop, Hokey Pokey

Adaptation excerpts taken from:

Vodola, Thomas, M. Individualized Physical Education Program for the Handicapped Child. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.