Special Education : Adapted Physical Education

Physical education is an essential part of the basic educational program and contributes to the development of the total individual. Every student with a disability is entitled to participate in a program activity, specially designed if necessary. Adapted physical educators facilitate the optimal physical and emotional development of children with disabilities and recognize the wide range of motor abilities found in atypical populations. Adapted Physical Education (APE) services accommodate students of all ages and functional abilities via systemically designed instructional programs focused on functional mobility skills, motor and physical fitness, life time leisure and age-appropriate gross motor competencies.

WHAT is Adapted Physical Education?

Adapted Physical Education is an INSTRUCTIONAL program provided by teachers certified in Adapted Physical Education.
It is a specifically designed physical education program for students with disabilities who are unable to participate and benefit fully in regular physical education.
It is individualized to meet the identified motor/physical education needs of students in special education.
The student’s program may include consultation, support, modifications or inclusion in regular PE, OR self-contained Adapted PE instruction, OR a combination of regular and adapted physical education.

The APE Program includes:

  • Instruction by teachers certified in Adapted PE
  • Curriculum aligned with Louisiana Physical Education standards
  • Peer-tutoring
  • Buddy Program in regular P.E.
  • Orientation and Mobility Skills
  • Health Education
  • Creole Curriculum/Wheelchair Sports and Mobility Curriculum
  • Special Olympics
  • Sports for individuals with physical disabilities

WHY is Adapted PE Important?

Movement is a pre-requisite for most of our educational activities. Individuals with inefficient movement patterns may encounter added difficulties in vocational, social, emotional and educational areas. It is essential to provide success-oriented activities to students who have interests, capabilities and limitations that are not met through the regular PE program.
Adapted PE emphasizes:

  • Physical and motor fitness
  • Motor skills and patterns
  • Body mechanics
  • Individual games and sports for lifetime enjoyment and fitness
  • Leisure/recreation activities
  • Healthy Lifestyles

Students are also taught to apply motor and recreational skills to various home and community settings, to facilitate socialization, self and peer group acceptance, and normalization in the community.

HOW students receive Adapted PE

Students must qualify for Adapted physical education according to criteria established by the Louisiana Department of Education. When a student is having difficulty performing in regular physical education, a motor screening is initially conducted by the regular physical education teacher PRIOR to referral. The Academic/ Behavioral Intervention Team at the school will be contacted. If warranted, evaluation will then be conducted by Adapted PE personnel. When a student qualifies for APE services, the type and frequency of services will be determined by the IEP team.

Students who have the following characteristics will be considered for screening and referral:

  • Developmental delays in chronologically age-appropriate motor skills;
  • Difficulty with equilibrium responses and balance activities;
  • Lack of strength, endurance, flexibility;
  • Poor body or spatial awareness;
  • Chronic medical conditions;
  • Lack of appropriate play and socialization behavior;
  • Poor auditory processing.

WHERE and WHEN students receive Adapted PE

Students receive APE during their school day. The class is scheduled according to the needs of the student as indicated on the IEP. Typically, students participate in some regular physical education with support from a para-educator or inclusion support from the adapted physical education teacher. However, many students require instruction in a self-contained class with other students with disabilities. Instruction may occur outdoors on school grounds, in the gym, or in another defined space.


Motor Screening Form
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