Starting With Adaptive Physical Education – NJ Special Education APE

Stepping Up to The Starting Line With Adaptive Physical Education

ape therapy at nj special needs school in monmouth county

Using a wide variety of equipment, progressions, and activities, the Harbor School offers Adaptive Physical Education (APE) as one of its support services. APE does promote the overall health, fitness level and physical growth of the students. Strengthening these qualities for any student can enable them to grow and explore their world and their long-term potentials, ranging from independence to employment opportunities.

Intramural sports offered through the program include soccer, softball, basketball, and floor hockey. There is also a swim program, as well as a Special Olympics Bocce Ball.

So, just what is Adaptive Physical Education (APE)?

APE is an adapted, or modified, physical education program designed to meet the individualized gross motor needs, or other disability-related challenges, of an identified student. It can be provided one-on-one, in a small group, or within the general physical education setting. The needs of the children will determine the lesson plans, rubrics, and worksheets. A team decides if the services are needed or not. If they are, the services become part of a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

If a child is to receive APE services, the IEP should include any assessment information, the amount of APE to be included in the plan, whether or not the child will be in the general physical education setting, and goals with measurable objectives and benchmarks. There are four areas in which adaptations or modifications can be made:

  • 1
    Instruction – In order to help the child be successful, rules, lesson plans and strategies can be modified. The instructor will still help the child perform a task correctly. The method of instruction is flexible.
  • 2
    Rules – It is necessary to focus on rules for a moment. In sports, rules were made according to one standard of ability. For example, volleyball rules were not created for students who use wheelchairs. Therefore, it is acceptable to adapt or change the rules accordingly.
  • 3
    Equipment – Shape, color, and size become rather irrelevant when it comes to equipment used in APE. Standard gym equipment can easily be replaced. For example, if a student is visually impaired, we will use a larger, brighter ball when playing kickball.
  • 4
    Environment – Regulations also define the playing areas in professional or competitive sports. In the interest of Adaptive Physical Education, the instructor controls the size and shape of the playing field. He or she might use tape to define it. The simplest example can be a game of catch. The instructor may start by rolling a ball back and forth. The distance may begin with a minimal distance or size, then gradually expand the playing field.

    Many students in mainstream education consider gym class to be frivolous or possibly extremely frustrating. The approach of APE in special education is to engage and support each student individually. Those needs are often physical in nature. Motor skills are often impaired or grossly affected. Beyond that, our students can be every bit as competitive as their non-disabled peers. We owe it to them to create the opportunity to have that experience.
erik glazer principal harbor school

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Erik Glazner, 
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ