Adapted Physical Education

  • Adapted Physical Education (APE) is a direct service that can be provided to a special needs child, should the need be determined. In many cases, if a child is identified as visually impaired, physically handicapped, severely multiply impaired, or other health impaired, he or she will be warranted APE services.   Adapted Physical Education is standards-based physical education that has been adapted or modified to meet the individual needs of students with a disability.  APE is not a separate class, but a range of modified physical education services that are provided in the least restrictive environment.

    Adapted Physical Education (APE) is an adapted, or modified, physical education program designed to meet the individualized gross motor needs, or other disability-related challenges, of an identified student. The program can be provided one-on-one, in a small group, or within the general physical education setting. The APE teacher will modify/adapt lesson plans, rubrics, and activities to meet the needs of students they serve.

    The need for Adapted Physical Education (APE) is determined by the Student Services Team. The APE instructor assesses the child and presents the information to the committee. The assessment must include diagnostic and curriculum-based data, observations, and input by the child’s general physical education teacher. If the child is receiving OT, PT or Vision Therapy (VT), then the input should be obtained by these providers as well.

    Based on the assessment and any other information provided by committee members, the committee determines whether or not APE services are needed. If the committee recommends such services, then APE becomes a part of the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The plan must include the assessment information, the amount of APE to be received, whether or not the child will be in the general physical education setting, and goals with measurable objectives/benchmarks.

    It’s important to note that APE should not be viewed as a related service. Because physical education is federally mandated for all students, the APE teacher is a direct service provider. The APE teacher is to provide adaptations or modifications that will allow the special needs child to participate in age-appropriate physical education activities. Adaptations or modifications can be made in four areas:

    • Instruction: Rules, lesson plans, strategies, etc. can be modified or included to help the child be successful in physical education. For example, a Down syndrome child may respond to one-word signs as reminders for doing a somersault correctly.
    • Rules: A rule can be adapted or changed if it allows the special needs child to be successful. For example, if the students are working on volleyball skills, a wheelchair-bound student is allowed to serve the volleyball from four feet ahead of the serving line.
    • Equipment: Standard gym equipment can be replaced with other objects that vary in shape, color, size, etc. For example, when playing kickball, provide a large bright orange ball for a visually impaired child to kick.
    • Environment: If need be, change the size of the playing area or use tape to define the area. For example, if the general education students are pitching softballs back and forth, work with a severely mentally handicapped child on rolling a ball back and forth by starting out being two feet apart and gradually increasing the space.

    For some special needs students, Adapted Physical Education may be needed every school year. For other students, as they continue to make gains with their gross motor skills, APE services might be tapered back and at some point no longer needed. APE students need to be encouraged to do their best. Programs, such as the Special Olympics, have provided a wonderful and positive opportunity for APE students to experience competing just like their non-disabled peers.

    What is the role of the Adapted Physical Education Teacher?

    Adapted Physical Educator is a direct service provider, not a related service provider because physical education for children with disabilities is a federally and state-mandated component of special education services.  In this role, they evaluate, plan, and implement instructional programs in physical education for students with disabilities, as defined by the North Carolina Healthful Living Essential Standards. They also function in the role of consultant. In this role, they help other professionals provide APE programs.

    The Adapted Physical Educator performs formal student evaluations and is an essential member of the IEP team.  Students are tested to determine their status upon qualifying; a program is developed to meet their needs. This is accomplished, by modifying the existing program to include the child with disabilities to the maximum extent possible. Yearly goals and objectives will be developed by the parent, classroom teacher, regular Physical Education teacher, and the Adapted Physical Education Teacher.

    The primary provider is the Physical Education teacher assigned to the school with the service delivery plan determined by the school-based committee through consultation with the Adapted Physical Education Specialists. Possible models for service delivery include inclusion, peer tutors, reverse mainstreaming, self-contained classes, and combinations of these various models. Once the plan is established it is the responsibility of the regular Physical Education teacher to monitor progress by the student through the collection of measurement data on a regular basis. This information will be transferred to the IEP form at the end of each grading period.

    For additional information regarding this program contact the Office of Health Services at 910-678-2406.

Contact Us

  • Health Services
    Cumberland County Schools
    2465 Gillespie Street
    Fayetteville, NC 28306
    FAX: 910-483-7835

    Shirley Bolden, MSA
    Director of Health Services