Providing specialized education for children with disabilities is extremely important to their inclusion and development. Multiple federal laws in the U.S. have been passed to ensure that children with disabilities—including neurodivergent disorders like autism—receive quality education equivalent to their peers. Many people may not know that these laws apply to both classroom and physical education. Children with disabilities can reap the benefits of tailored education that works for them.

Exercise Connection has the resources educators rely on to develop and instruct specialized exercise programs for children with autism. The Exercise Buddy app and Visual Exercise System are a great way for kids to follow along with their assigned programs. Using easy-to-follow visuals and simple progress tracking, educators, therapists, and coaches can be sure their pupils will engage with materials that empower them to achieve learning targets. Browse our inclusive exercise program solutions or call today to learn more, 773-575-5100.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that guarantees all children with disabilities the right to a free and appropriate public education. This law means that schools must provide these children with the resources to succeed academically and physically.

For a child to receive special education, they must first be evaluated by a team of professionals. This team will determine if they have a disability that affects their educational performance. If they have a qualifying disability, the team will develop an individualized education plan (IEP) that outlines the accommodations the child will receive.

All children with IEPs are entitled to receive physical education services appropriate for their needs. For physical education to be truly inclusive, educators must receive training to work with children with disabilities. This training builds an understanding of adapting activities and materials and creating a positive, supportive learning environment. Read more about physical education in IDEA Law here, as well as the US Department of Education Guidance letters related to Adapted Physical Education here.

Inclusive Physical Education Is Important

Physical education is an essential part of every child’s education. It helps children develop the motor skills they need to live healthy and active lives. It also provides a much-needed break from the rigors of academic learning.

Children with autism may especially benefit from physical education. Exercise can help them:

  • Regulate emotions
  • Enhance social skills
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Increase focus
  • Improve academics

For children with disabilities, inclusive physical education is critical. Specialized instruction and accommodations can help them succeed in physical activity and lead more active lifestyles.

Tips for Developing an Inclusive Exercise Program

When developing an exercise program for children with disabilities, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Assess & monitor ongoing student performance –  This will help you determine present-levels of performance, evaluate progress, and drive instruction including the creation of individualized goals.
  • Ensure activities are developmentally appropriate – All children, regardless of ability, should be able to participate in activities that are challenging, but not overwhelming. Monitor task difficulty to enhance engagement.
  • Use a variety of activities and materials – Variety will help keep children engaged and motivated. Make sure to provide opportunities for students to participate and respond during instruction. 
  • Embed evidence-based practices to support instruction  – Using evidence-based teaching strategies and universal design will help meet the diverse needs of learners and promote success. Visuals, reinforcement, technology-aided instruction, and modeling are just a few examples of evidence-based practices for learning.
  • Individualize instruction – Inclusive education involves activities that are differentiated for each child’s’ unique learning needs.

Physical Education Resources from Exercise Connection

If you’re looking for ways to make your physical education program more inclusive, Exercise Connection can help. We offer a variety of resources, including digital tools, manipulatives, and professional development, which are designed to empower students who receive special education services to access grade-level PE curriculum.

We are proud to offer a variety of resources to help educators create inclusive physical education programs. Our solutions are designed to be used by children of all abilities, and our team is always available to answer any questions you may have. Find the resources that are right for you or reach out to our team for more information.