The Great Strides School PE program was trialed two years ago by taking the advanced learners to Chuck Rogers’ park to learn and eventually play a modified soccer game with staff. We now offer PE every school day in each school classroom facilitated by a classroom PE Lead and supervised by the school’s Physical Therapist to assist with any physical accommodations needed for the students.
This program was developed by Rebecca Kilgore, PT, DPT, BCaBA, a licensed physical therapist and board certified assistance behavior analyst, who explains,
“The goal for our school’s PE program is to assist our students in learning the fundamental building blocks for play, sports, coordination, and cardio/muscle endurance all while having fun and interacting with staff and peers.”
Why PE is Important for Kids with Autism
Physically active children have better circulation, muscle tone and maintain a healthy weight. While physical activity is healthy for all children, goes even farther with autistic children. Autistic children experience an increased attention span after aerobic activity. Physical education with autistic children is also effective at controlling some inappropriate behaviors associated with autism, according to John O’Connor in the article “Understanding Autism” published in Palestra.
Autistic children experience difficulties in interpersonal relationships that manifest in avoiding affection, play or participation in physical activities, avoiding eye contact and being unable to relate normally to other people and situations. Including autistic children in physical education is complicated by autistic children’s inability to cope with normal tactile stimuli. The result is that many autistic children possess low levels of physical fitness.
Exercise and sports may help to prevent problem behavior such as aggression, and it may help socialization in autistic children, according to the Association For Science In Autism Treatment. Autistic children are not typically motivated to play in games with other children and may engage in inappropriate behavior because of sensory over-stimulation. Instructional programs that include only autistic children can have similar challenges as with mixed classes to include inappropriate behaviors, reluctance to participate, stimulus distractions, short attention span and abrupt outbursts or regression during exercise.
Creative techniques are needed to increase children with disabilities’ participation in physical activities which is why it is so important to have your child working with the professional technicians at Great Strides.