Pharmacy, Natural & Health Sciences

Exercise Science & Athletic Training - Adapted Physical Education

Adapted Physical Education

What is Adapted Physical Education?

Adapted physical education is one of the most rewarding professions in which a "people person" can engage. It is the art and science of developing and implementing a carefully designed physical education instructional program for a student with a disability, based on a comprehensive assessment, to give the individual the skills necessary for a lifetime of leisure, recreation, and sport.

Adapted physical education is actually just good teaching! Effective teachers of physical education always attempt to meet the individual needs of all students in the most appropriate environment. A physical educator who strives to accomplish this IS an adapted physical educator! Click here for the Mission Statement from the Indiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Legal Right to be Physically Educated

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was approved by legislators who believed that children and youth with disabilities could benefit from physical education and that physical education services, modified when necessary, should be a part of all students' educational program. Physical education is defined as the development of:

  • physical and motor fitness,
  • fundamental motor skills and patterns,
  • skills in aquatics, dance, and individual and group games and sports (including intramural and lifetime sports).

These legislators understood that many students with disabilities could participate in physical education with their peers without adaptations to the general program. However, they also realized that some would require modifications or support to safely and successfully participate in and benefit from general physical education. When students with disabilities need extra support to benefit from physical education instruction or when these students need a special program as an alternative to general physical education, they qualify for adapted physical education. Click here for the Indiana Adapted Physical Education Procedural Guidelines

Although lawmakers wanted to ensure that only "qualified" individuals would provide physical education services to students with disabilities, they also believed that determining who was qualified should be left up to each individual state. The Federal Register (1977) defines qualified as a person who has met the state's Department of Education approved certification and/or licensing requirements that apply to the area in which he/she is providing special education. Adapted Physical Education National Standards have been devised by leaders in this specialized academic area to support the training of qualified professionals. Click here for more information on careers in adapted physical education.

If you would like further information about the Adapted Physical Education program, please contact Kim A. Duchane at