Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Physical Education: DisABLE the LABEL!

"Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone." - George Dei
This year for the first time, I am responsible for teaching Physical Education to my ASD class and it has quickly become a meaningful integration/inclusion opportunity for my students. My colleague ad P.E. guru @andreahaefele and I observed a gap in the knowledge and education of Phys.Ed teachers required to properly teach special needs students. To combat this, we have been working on DISABLE the LABEL: An awareness campaign designed to equip teachers with the skills necessary to create and implement a Phys. Ed program that promotes inclusivity and community for ALL.

Why Integrate for P.E.?
Autism is a cognitive disability that is characterized by deficiency in social skills, memory, processing, expressive and receptive skills. Therefore, my students lack a lot of the basic self-regulation, attention and cognitive skills necessary to integrate into age-appropriate classrooms for Literacy, Math and Social Studies. Their bodies, however, are a tool that allows them to perform movement and actions that are actually at grade-level. Movement is a strength for my students, so why not integrate them into a subject where they have a potential to keep up with their peers?
My Physical Education program is a combination and balance of 3 parts:

1. Reverse Integration
Who: ASD Students + 1-2 peers from Integration class
What: ASD students work on their IPP (Individualized PhysEd Plan) 1:1 with a teacher while buddies engage in parallel and partner activities with the other ASD students.
PurposeTo improve gross motor skills individually and directly teach skills that will help the students to be successful with a larger integration group (i.e. run, jump, play tag, sit when the whistle blows)

2. Integration
Who: ASD Students + Integration Class
What: Students participate in the daily routines of a mainstream PhysEd class, using the skills they learn through the IPP.
Purpose: To allow ASD students to improve their social skills through gross motor activities that require working with a buddy or group of classmates (i.e. playing tag).

3. Inclusion (the BIG picture!)
Who: Integration Class (and the rest of the school community!)
What: Direct teaching of inclusive strategies for students to act as a successful buddy to a special needs peer.
Purpose: To create a safe, welcoming environment for ALL students to learn.

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