Developmental and Adapted Physical Education
eBook - ePub

Developmental and Adapted Physical Education

Making Ability Count

Michael Horvat, Ronald Croce, Caterina Pesce, Ashley Eason Fallaize

  1. 504 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
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eBook - ePub

Developmental and Adapted Physical Education

Making Ability Count

Michael Horvat, Ronald Croce, Caterina Pesce, Ashley Eason Fallaize

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About This Book

Now in a fully revised and updated 6th edition, reflecting changes in legislation and cutting-edge research, this is a complete introduction to adapted physical education, from the underpinning science to practical teaching strategies and program design.

The book covers a broader range of disabilities, developmental disorders, and health conditions than any other textbook and includes brand new material on developmental coordination disorders and cognitive development. Full of teaching and coaching strategies and techniques, it introduces scientific fundamentals, key legislation, and best practice in designing effective programs. It encourages the reader to consider the individual before the disability and to focus on what learners can do rather than what they can't.

This is an essential reference for teachers, coaches, or exercise professionals working with children with disabilities. It is also an invaluable resource for undergraduate or postgraduate students of adapted physical education, kinesiology, physical education, physical therapy, exercise science, athletic training, or sports coaching.

The new edition features updated online resources, including PowerPoint slides, web links, an example syllabus, and quizzes.

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Section I


Physical education for children with disabilities

The chapters in this section provide information concerning legal mandates and the placement of children with disabilities into physical education. The initial steps in meeting the needs for children with disabilities requires the input of physical education teachers, special education teachers, athletic trainers, and physical and occupational therapists who make up the motor performance team (MPT). This information should facilitate:
  • the availability of physical education services at the federal, state, and local levels;
  • an understanding of individualized education plans (IEP) that are developed to place children with disabilities in the least restrictive learning environment based on the needs of the child;
  • an understanding of the roles of parents and various administrative professionals in the educational process and input on the MPT;
  • a determination of how the child’s need are met through evaluation and assessment in program planning and implementation; and
  • the application of the developmental concepts of physical fitness, movement development, motor skill acquisition, and cognitive and perceptual development when teaching children with disabilities.

1 But first I have some questions, professor

Case Study

The professor looked at her watch and put away her notes. The students had picked up their backpacks and stored their course outlines and notes from today’s lecture. The first day was over. She felt this was going to be a good group. Several students had volunteered. Others had asked insightful questions. One student told of his experience as a volunteer for a local Special Olympics team. Another shared that she had a brother who had died from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. One student expressed concern about the impact of teaching physical education in a full inclusion setting and wondered whether she would really be able to effectively teach children with disabilities. The class wasn’t hesitant to ask questions such as about the types of disabilities that they may encounter and what services are available in developing and implanting program plans in the most appropriate environment:
  • How will I know whether a condition qualifies as a disability and who makes that decision?
  • Is physical education really required for ALL children and ALL types of disabilities?
  • Who decides whether a child with a disability will be in physical education classes? (The class was especially interested in this question.)
  • How will I determine the needs of children with disabilities?
  • Who decides whether a child with a disability will be in my physical education class?
After returning to the office, the professor thought that, yes, there were many questions to answer regarding individuals with disabilities and their ability to participate in physical activity, sports, and recreation. When these students graduate, they may be faced with the challenge to provide meaningful physical activity opportunities for individuals with disabilities in a variety of settings. From there, the professor’s thoughts turned to fine-tuning the next day’s lecture and discussion for the adapted physical education class.
The following chapter focuses on questions you may want to ask, or are thinking about, as you start your experience in adapted physical education. When confronted by new and challenging situations, you need to know where any given new situation might lead, especially in states and local school districts that vary in providing support for educating children with disabilities.
We tend to want to ask questions when faced with situations that seem relatively removed from our previous experiences. However, the more we need to know, the more fearful we may be about exposing our self-perceived naiveties. As a physical education teacher, you may be particularly concerned about your responsibility to develop and implement programs for children with disabilities.
Let us consider some important initial questions. As concerns arise in the course of your class experience, we anticipate that your questions will be encouraged and welcomed. Be assured there is far less risk in asking a question than in allowing a possible inappropriate or harmful situation to develop because your question may have gone unasked.
Today, children with a range of disabilities identified in laws, both federal and state, are fully entitled to a free, public education. That education is required to be individually designed when necessary and to take place, to the degree reasonably possible, in regular education settings (i.e., the least restrictive environment).
Over three decades ago, Julien Stein (1979), one of the foremost advocates of adapted physical education, stated, “The success and effectiveness of programs, activities, and efforts should be based upon numbers of children screened out of – not into – special programs.” He suggested that there is a potential to successfully integrate 90%–95% of children with disabilities into regular physical education programs. His prediction has largely come to fruition. Over the years, more and more children with disabilities have been placed safely and successfully in regular physical education settings that are served by regular physical education teachers. Increasingly, adapted physical education specialists serve as consultants to physical education teachers in inclusion to provide meaningful participation based on individual needs. Additionally, the motor performance team (MPT), which includes special education teachers, coaches, athletic trainers, and physical and occupational therapists, helps to facilitate inclusion and work in conjunction with the physical education teachers to develop and implement an appropriate program and setting for all children.

Causes of disability

Disabilities may be congenital or acquired. A congenital disability is one that comes with and is generally, but not always, apparent at birth. An acquired disability is one that can occur anytime in life following birth. Certain congenital disabilities may not clinically manifest themselves or be diagnosed until sometime after birth (e.g., Duchenne muscular dystrophy). Nonetheless, such conditions are considered congenital.
Congenital disabilities can be caused by genetic abnormalities. For example, Down syndrome and spina bifida are developmental disorders that may cause cognitive and physical deficits. Congenital disabilities can also be caused by certain maternal infections during pregnancy that cause cerebral palsy. Acquired disabilities like spinal cord injuries can result from illness or trauma and can be permanent or temporary, such as concussion symptoms. Likewise, muscular trauma can be addressed by the teacher who can develop a rehabilitation program in conjunction with the MPT.

Needs of children with disabilities in physical education

If you are a regular physical education teacher, keep in mind that children with disabilities are children who first and foremost are children, but who happen to have disabilities. Quite generally, children and youth with disabilities and those without disabilities tend to be more alike than different. The vast majority of what good teachers know about educating children and youth without disabilities is directly applicable to children with disabilities. Whenever one allows disability to inordinately stand at the forefront of relationships with persons who have disabilities, one risks losing sight of the reality that people typically are much more alike than different.
If you are an adapted physical education teacher, you will have specialized in the education of persons who have disabilities, and you will be knowledgeable across a spectrum of situations and conditions that may affect a person’s physical education attitudes, aptitudes, and experience. You may well be the person to whom the regular physical education teacher comes for consultation about a question concerning a child. When you, as an adapted physical education specialist, have questions about disabilities, it is beneficial to work with teachers/coaches, therapists, parents, and administrators to provide the expertise necessary to accommodate the resources necessary to develop and implement a program plan for each child. For children with a disability who have physical education needs that are different from those met within the context of the regular curriculum, an individualized education plan (IEP), as mandated in IDEA (2004), will be developed. The IEP, where it addresses physical education, will give the physical education teacher direction in meeting the child’s unique physical education needs and will solidify their standing with the MPT. This will empower the teacher to develop appropriate experiences and goals that are consistent with the opportunities to participate for all children.

Learning activity

Having read this chapter’s questions and answers, what additional questions come to mind that you would like answered? Discuss your questions with your classmates and then present your questions (and answers) to your professor.

Chapter summary

  1. 1 Questions that appear in this chapter are representative of those asked in the authors’ classes by students who are new to adapted physical education. They are real questions from real people. More questions will arise as the term progresses, and you are encouraged to ask. Know that your questions can contribute positively to class dynamics. Classes tend to be most satisfying, from both the students’ and teacher’s perspective, when students proactively take part in the learning process.
  2. 2 Many people, including some students and their teachers, unwittingly perpetuate disability labels and stereotypes about people who have disabilities and, in so doing, deny persons with disability dignity, individuality, and opportunity to achieve in accordance to potential.
  3. 3 Physical education teachers, regular and adapted, must become familiar with the origin, duration, and severity range of many disabling conditions, but even more important, physical educators must learn to look beyond the disability so as to develop meaningful learning experiences designed to maximize each individual’s unique potential.
  4. 4 Quite generally, children with and without disabilities are more alike than different. Recognizing this reality can become an important part of the rationale to include, whenever reasonably possible, children with disabilities in regular education settings.
  5. 5 A major trend over the past three decades has been to include more children with disabilities in regular education settings. There are at least two explanations for this, one negative and one positive. Negative: increasingly tight budgets, particularly during tight economic times, mitigate against placing children with disabilities, when educationally necessary, in relatively more restrictive educational settings. Positive: progress with regard to teacher preparation, both pre-service and in-service, enables teachers today, perhaps more than ever before, to meaningfully integrate children with disabilities into regular classroom settings.
  6. 6 IDEA (2004) was last revised in 2004 and first appeared in 1975 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975). Of particular significance to physical educators is that physical education is explicitly mentioned by name in the law’s definition of special education. Physical education, by virtue of its explicit inclusion in the definition, is integral to special education, and, therefore, must be made available to children with disabilities, wherever such opportunities are available to children without disabilities.


IDEIA (2004). Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA 2004 or IDEA 2004), Pub. L. No. 108-446.
Stein, J. U. (1979, June). The mission and mandate: Physical education, the not so sleeping giant. Education Limited, 27–29.

2 Legal mandates

Case Study

Eric is an 11th-grade boy with Down syndrome. As with many students with Down syndrome, Eric is overweight. If Eric’s propensity to gain weight does not become the focus of continued intervention, he most certainly will become obese in early adulthood.
Physical education in Eric’s state is required of all students through the 10th grade. Given Eric’s IDEA, 2004–recognized disability, he has, through grade 10, qualified for both regular and adapted physical education, and his IEP has focused on helping him maintain a healthy lean body mass to fat ratio. Now that Eric is an 11th grader, his school, according to new language in IDEA, 2004, is no longer required to provide him physical education, adapted or otherwise. New language in IDEA, 2004 essentially states that adapted physical education is required only if physical education is a requirement at the student’s grade le...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Section I Introduction: physical education for children with disabilities
  8. Section II Teaching individuals with learning and behavior disabilities
  9. Section III Teaching individuals with sensory impairments
  10. Section IV Teaching individuals with congenital and acquired impairments
  11. Section V Teaching individuals with health impairments
  12. Section VI Developing and implementing the physical activity program
  13. Index
Citation styles for Developmental and Adapted Physical Education

APA 6 Citation

Horvat, M., Croce, R., Pesce, C., & Fallaize, A. E. (2019). Developmental and Adapted Physical Education (6th ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)

Chicago Citation

Horvat, Michael, Ronald Croce, Caterina Pesce, and Ashley Eason Fallaize. (2019) 2019. Developmental and Adapted Physical Education. 6th ed. Taylor and Francis.

Harvard Citation

Horvat, M. et al. (2019) Developmental and Adapted Physical Education. 6th edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Horvat, Michael et al. Developmental and Adapted Physical Education. 6th ed. Taylor and Francis, 2019. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.