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< Adapted Physical Education

What is Adapted Physical Education?

Adapted Physical Education is physical education that has been adapted or modified so that it is as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for a person without a disability.


Adapted Physical Education may also be referred to as specially designed physical education, special physical education, or developmental physical education.


IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act)

Physical education services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving free and appropriate public education, unless the public agency enrolls children without disabilities and does not provide physical education to children without disabilities in the same grades" (P.L. 108-446, Sec. 300.108(a)).

​Physical Education is a special service

It is important to know that adapted physical education is a special education service, not to be confused with a specific placement or specific setting.

Therefore, specially designed physical education (adapted physical education) may be provided in a variety of settings such as:

  • The General PE Class (with the Special Education Teacher)
  • Small-group physical education
  • One-on-one physical education​
  • Home, Hospital, Institution, etc.


How is the need for adapted physical education determined?

If a student with a disability is not making adequate progress within the general physical education curriculum, requires adaptations to the curriculum, requires additional supports to participate (e.g., paraprofessional support, modifying the curriculum, etc.), or modifications to assessment processes, then the student should be accessing adapted physical education services. 


Are students with disabilities that do not qualify for special education services protected by mandates?

Students with disabilities including those who do not qualify for special education services are guaranteed reasonable accommodations for equal opportunities to participate in physical education programs under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Students who require special services or “reasonable accommodations" under Section 504, will have an accommodation plan (rather than an IEP).  This plan will serve to document the accommodations necessary for physical education participation.

Students should never be denied access to physical education or adapted physical education services. ​


Additional Information:

  • Physical education is not a related service

Related services (services that may be provided to help the student benefit from special education services) such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy cannot be substituted for physical education services.​