Fitness is something I am very passionate about so when heard I could take adaptive PE instead of regular PE I was super excited. I have always struggled with finding different ways to stay active so I thought taking a PE class would help me learn new ways to stay active. When I took adaptive PE, the class I took was a joke and that was mainly because they were treating everyone’s disability as one. Every disability is different and some people with physical disabilities struggle more than others and taking that into consideration when you teach adaptive PE will help you and your students take something away from it. If you are an educator and are wondering how you can teach PE to disabled students with many different disabilities here a few tips that may help.
Listen to disabled people- No one knows more about their disability than the disabled person themselves so when they tell you something about their disability listen to them. During our time in adaptive PE Karly and I very frequently had to do laps in freezing cold weather but because of Karly’s Muscular Dystrophy, cold weather is hard for her to tolerate so she would ask to stay in. How a girl in a power chair benefitted from doing laps on the track I will never understand. In most cases, they would not let her stay in because they thought she was just being lazy and did not want to participate in the activity. To help you get a better understanding of how cold weather affects people like Karly I asked her how cold weather affects her and here is what she said:
Cold weather has always been really hard for me to tolerate. Having muscular dystrophy means that I also have really poor circulation, especially in my legs and feet. Because of that, I’m always cold, to begin with, even in the middle of summer. So, when I go out when it’s below 60 degrees, I get colder faster than a lot of people and then it takes me hours after I’ve come back inside to warm back up. Another reason I try not to be outside in the cold for too long is that I get sick really easily and have a hard time fighting it off. Just a common cold can last a month for me, and I’m at high risk for something like pneumonia which would be super dangerous for me. Making such rude accusations is hurtful so unless you have some reason for making these accusations than just don’t!
Have alternative options- Not all disabled people will benefit from personal fitness so why are we forcing them to take it? Eighty-percent of how you look and feel all comes down to the foods you put in your body so why is PE a requirement and not nutrition. A lot of people who are physically disabled can’t work out or are extremely limited in what they can do so focusing on the foods they eat is more important than focusing on fitness. Some people think that eating healthy consists of eating three hundred salads but it is so much more than that. I benefitted the most from my nutrition and wellness class in high school because I learned so much. Both personal fitness and nutrition are both equally important so why is it not a choice?
Teach them how to stay active- People often wonder why people who are physically disabled that can work out don’t. A lot of people who are physically disabled don’t know how to work out so they may need guidance on what workouts to do. If you teach a person with a disability, different ways to stay active they are more likely to incorporate those things into their daily routines. It is just as important for a person with a physical disability to stay active so why are we not teaching them how to do it?
Everything I know about fitness is things that I have either learned from professionals, my parents, read in books, or from a Youtube video. I really wish I could have taken something away from adaptive PE because it would have made my fitness journey so much easier but because the class I took was a joke I make the best of it. If you have any questions about how you can adapt PE for disabled students please leave them in the comments below.