PE and the Autistic Child

PGCE and School Direct trainee PE teachers took part in a workshop-based seminar that focused on providing inclusive physical education lessons for children with autism.

Tim Brown, Learning Support officer from Heathfield Community School, spoke to trainees about the spectrum of autism and how physical education teachers can incorporate modified equipment and adapt tasks to suit children with a range of different additional learning needs.

According to the Youth Sport Trust autism affects an estimated 600,000 people in the UK of which over 80,000 are of school age. Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and sometimes pupils with autism have additional difficulties which may include hearing, vision loss or poor motor co-ordination which may also affect their educational needs and access to physical education.

Topics covered during the seminar included:

  • overcoming difficulties with spaces including changing rooms, and teaching and learning spaces
  • interpretation of verbal messages and increased time required for the processing and retention of skills and information
  • lack of understanding of abstract concept
  • gross motor difficulties
  • difficulties with imitation when completing complex tasks
  • sensory issues such as noise, touch, smell, light and how they may affect the pupils ability to process information and affect their behaviour
  • social difficulties such as cooperation, turn taking, sharing, negotiation, understanding rules
  • limits of skill transfer, its application and the speed of skill acquisition.

PGCE and School Direct PE route leader, Dr Gary Stidder said: “Having an experienced individual such as Tim Brown speaking to our trainee teachers gave them a really good understanding and awareness of the importance of inclusion for autistic children.

“It also gave a realistic perspective of the challenges that teachers of physical education face in devising differentiated learning outcomes for children with forms of autism.”

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