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Teaching Physical Education to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This presentation provides educators with tips and strategies for teaching students with ASD in the inclusive physical education class.

Nell Corrigan

on 20 June 2013

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Transcript of Teaching Physical Education to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Teaching Physical Education to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Strategies To Use In The Physical Education Classroom
Strategies Continued
4. Team sports may be difficult because of the pace and complexity.
Focus on the goal
of each sport - it could be simply running with the team (Indiana Institute, 2013). Instead of competition, promote physical fitness and social interaction with peers.

5. Team sports may also be a difficult concept, because it is more social.
"Working as a team may need to be explained
, perhaps through videos, pictures, or with social stories," (Indiana Institute, 2013).

6. Be
adaptable and able to simplify or alter tasks
. “Skills that require a large amount of information to process or that require a planned form of execution are often difficult to perform,” (Simpson et. al., 2010, p.52).

7. Use
visual aids
. For example, when explaining how to shoot a basketball, demonstrate the act. Students with ASD are often visual learners (Simpson et. al., 2010).

Remember ...
“Physical education teachers of students with autism may need to conscientiously arrange the teaching environment and activities such that they allow the students with autism to be safe, successful, and challenged without over-stimulating them,” (Menear & Smith, 2008, p.34).

“Keep in mind that success precedes motivation for students with autism,” (Menear & Smith, 2008, p.35). Students need to see results immediately.

Create a welcoming, fun, and safe environment, and all students will feel accepted and be able to succeed.

For The
The Physical Education class has been found,
"to be a unique educational setting in which
appropriate and positive interactions
with classmates were fostered in all students,
including students with autism,” (Douglas,
2009, p.2).
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
ASD is a pervasive
developmental disorder,
with conditions on a
spectrum ranging from mild
to severe. The two major
categories of the disorder
are autism and
syndrome (Winzer,
Due to the vast spectrum of the disorder, an exact definition remains vague and unclear.

However, it is known that autism is, "a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction ... that adversely affects educational performance. Characteristics of autism include irregularities and impairments in communication, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences,"
(Winzer, 2008, p.460).
Like autism, much of the information about Asperger's Syndrome remains unclear.
However, although those with Asperger's syndrome differ from those with autism, "the same domains of communication, socialization, behaviour, and activities are affected, although there is relatively normal development in cognition and language," (Winzer, 2008, p.461).
Characteristics of Students With ASD
- Extreme variability in intellectual functioning
- Language comprehension difficulties
- Expressive language functions
- Restricted interests
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Motor difficulties
- Sensory differences
(Winzer, 2008, p.465)
As a result of these characteristics, special programming or accommodations may be necessary for students with ASD, and the physical education class is no exception.

This presentation will provide educators with tips and strategies for teaching students with ASD in the inclusive physical education class.
1. "Create a
structured and consistent routine
," (Menear & Smith, 2008, p.34). For example, warm up and cool down the same way everyday, or, ensure that students always use the same colour of pinnie. Also, use methods of behaviour management and communication that are consistent with those used in the regular classroom. Routine and predictability are important.

2. People with ASD have a tendency to do well with
repetitive activities
. In a Phys. Ed. class, use this strength to increase students' physical fitness and keep them involved in the class. For example, the repetitive motions of riding a bike or bouncing a ball (Menear & Smith, 2008).

3. The
gym space might need to be modified
smaller areas
for students who have difficulty with large spaces. Setting up four or five stations that students can work at in small groups will often be the most productive, and will help students with ASD feel more comfortable (Indiana Institute, 2013).
When Giving Instructions ...
- Be as direct, calm, clear, and concrete as possible
- Students with autism are literal thinkers, and abstract comments like “shake a leg” are confusing. Give simple, straightforward instructions
- Use visuals
- Avoid giving too much information too fast. Instead, give instructions in steps, giving students time to complete each step
- Help the student know class expectations or what to do at the beginning of class, during class, and at the end
- Students with autism need to be carefully instructed to learn each step in all classes

(Indiana Institute, 2013)
Additional Tips For Teaching Phys. Ed. To Students With ASD
- Document progress
- Give verbal praise
- Limit distractions
- Clear rules and consequences
- Have a visible schedule of the class
- Have visible boundaries for games and activities
- Do activities that individual students are interested in
- Reduce excessive noise (e.g. use nonverbal signals)
- Organize space and materials – e.g. label the equipment cupboard
- Have a personal/quiet area as a spot for the student to calm down or take a time out
(Simpson et. al., 2010)
Student begins lying on stomach on a mat
(1st position). Position 2 is knees and hands on floor; position
3 is quickly standing and bending knees; and position 4 is
jumping up. Teacher or a partner can use specific verbal cues,
“stomach, knees and hands, jump up,” or more abstract cues,
such as a specialized clap system. This exercise can also be a part of smaller stations throughout the gym.

Why Use?
It requires and develops listening skills,
discrimination between movements and cues, and balance.
(Chessen, 2009, p. 10)
So, what specific activities can I use to create an inclusive Physical Education classroom for all students, including those with Autism Spectrum disorders?
Start with knees and hands on floor. Extend legs until slightly bent, and walk using feet and hands. Palms should make contact with floor and fingers should be spread wide. Can be assisted by prompting or guiding from the hips. Bear crawls can be performed forwards, backwards, laterally, and with varying speeds.

Why Use?
Great for any group. Specifically, for students with ASD, bear crawls develop kinesthetic awareness, core strength, shoulder stability, and motor planning. Why not create a bear claw obstacle course?
(Chessen, 2009, p.8)
3. Marbles:
Put a large number of balls on marker cones and place in a long line across the gym. Divide class into 2 teams so they are each facing the balls on the markers. Players kick, throw, or roll the ball and score if they knock a ball off the marker.

Why Use?
Static nature and structure of the game allows for student focus and to not become overwhelmed. This game also promotes hand-eye coordination.

(Chessen, 2009, p.9)
Can be done alone or in multiple repetitions. They can also be done going forward, backwards, or side to side. The student begins in a squatting position with feet flat on the floor and arms tucked in so that the elbows touch the knees. On the teacher's cue, the student jumps up with arms and legs out, returning to squatting position with arms and legs tucked in. Repeat.

Why Use?
Students with ASD tend to excel in the repetitive nature of this exercise.

(Chessen, 2009, p.13)
5. YOGA:
Any number of basic yoga or stretching positions, including the meditative breathing.

Why Use?
Using yoga stretching poses to begin or end a class are a great way to create routine. Furthermore, the calming nature of yoga helps students to focus and not feel overwhelmed. Yoga can also be used to ease transitions between activities, helping to create a soothing atmosphere.

(Muth, 2013)

Play Through Autism: An Additional Resource
"101 Games And Activities For Children With Autism," by Suzanne Gray
"High Quality Physical Education For Pupils With Autism," found at www.autismargyll.org.uk
"Top 8 Exercises For Autism Fitness," found at www.autismfitness.com
Chessen, E. (2009). Top 8 exercises for autism fitness. Retrieved from www.autismfitness.com.

Douglas, M. M. (2009). Social interactions of students with autism in general physical education. Michigan State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304943628?
accountid=14391. (304943628).

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.iidc.

Menear, K. S., & Smith, S. (2008). Physical education for students with autism: Teaching tips and strategies. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(5), 32-37. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/201089169

Muth, N.D. (2013). 10 tips: Healthy nutrition and physical activity for children with autism. Retrieved from www.acefitness.org.

Play Through Autism. (2013). Retrieved from http://playthroughautism.com.

Simpson, C. G., Gaus, M. D., Biggs, M. J. G., & Williams, J. (2010). Physical education and implications for students with asperger's syndrome. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(6), 48-56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.

Winzer, M. (2008). Children with exceptionalities in Canadian Classrooms (8th ed.). Toronto,
ON: Pearson Prentice Hall.
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