Grant Wood AEA logo


Ann Griffin
Adapted Physical Education Consultant




What (services) supports are available at Grant Wood AEA related to autism spectrum disorders and the teaching of physical education?


Autism Spectrum Disorders:  General Information Adobe PDF logo


What is Autism?:  General Information


Links to Autism Society of America
Autism Society of Iowa
University of Iowa Regional Autism Services Program


PEP (Parent Educator Partnership) Library
Autism – What is it?  Awareness video for elementary students
This video shows children with autism who are attending a regular elementary school.  The video is narrated by children who are explaining autism and how it affects behavior and learning in those children who are autistic.  13 minutes, produced by the GWAEA autism resource team in 1999


Physical Education/Adapted Physical Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Physical Education and the Law


Physical Education, specially designed if necessary is required for all students with disabilities


Physical education placement is an IEP team decision based on the individual needs of a particular student.  It must be based on student need, not staff availability.  Ideally the physical educator should be a part of the team meeting and development of the individualized education plan. 


How do I determine if a physical education program is general, modified, or specially designed?

National Association for Sport and Physical Education


Eligibility Criteria for Adapted Physical Education Services

How do I document physical education on an IEP? [823.7 KB]


Instructional Resources

Solutions to Inclusion in Physical Education: Facts about Autism, Helpful Hints, Facilitating Understanding, Social Interactions, and Changing or Stopping Activities
Click on Hot TIP #12 pages 3 -5


Project P.L.A.Y.:  Programmed Leisure Activities for Youth with Autism, Savel and Leme, 1986, resource guide available in pdf format


Autism:  Equipment Turn-Ons for Adapted Physical Education
Video and DVD of Sample Adapted Physical Education Classes for Elementary and Middle School Students
Booking number 174926 (2004),

Autism:  Curriculum Differentiation for Physical Education Adobe PDF logo
Curriculum Differentiation is a process that can readily be used by educators to adjust their planning and lesson delivery to meet the unique needs of ALL learners. 


Educators can adjust:
CONTENT:  WHAT they teach:  what units, lessons, or portions of lessons would be most beneficial to students on the autism spectrum?

PROCESS:  HOW they teach…what instructional strategies will provide the most success for the students?

ENVIRONMENT:  WHERE you teach…what is the physical space like?  How might it be modified? WHAT EQUIPMENT will best facilitate skill acquisition?



Physical Education and Autism Adobe PDF logo
This collaborative project was designed as a hands-on reference for teaching students with autism in physical education. The intention of this reference is to provide physical educators and others with a general understanding of autism and the implications and effects it may have on the student's participation in physical education. Each individual is unique. It is up to the physical education teacher to identify and plan appropriate, meaningful activities for each student's success in physical education. For customized interventions based on this project, contact Ann Griffin, GWAEA adapted physical education consultant, (319) 399-6858.


Additional Resources and Links

Instructional DVD on teaching adapted physical to students with autism spectrum disorder
Autism Equipment Turn Ons in Adapted Physical Education, 2005, Available for check out from GWAEA media collection or for purchase from Championship Productions at


Awareness videos on Asperger Syndrome

Intricate minds II : understanding elementary school classmates with Asperger syndrome (176094)

Intricate minds III : understanding elementary school classmates who think differently (175636)

Intricate minds : understanding classmates with Asperger syndrome (171650)
Available from GWAEA media collection, Autism Core Team, or Ann Griffin



Tips to Consider When Including a Student with ASD in Art, Music, or Physical Education, by Kim Davis


Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
Access Autism:  Indiana Resource Center for Autism


The Puzzle of Autism – can be downloaded from NEA website


Visual Supports

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability


PE Central Adapted FAQ’s


Jason McElwain – student with autism who scores 20 points in high school basketball game


Video from ESPN’s Sportscenter -

Music and movement CD’s by Jim Gill available for check out from Ann Griffin, or for purchase at
Jim Gill Plays Do Re Mi on my Toe Leg Knee
Jim Gill Makes it Noisy in Boise, Idaho
Jim Gill Sings The Sneezing Song and other Contagious Tunes
Jim Gill’s Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense




GW logoAEA logo


Grant Wood Area Education Agency extends equal opportunities in its employment practices, educational programs and services, and does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or as otherwise prohibited by law. If you believe you or your child has been discriminated against or treated unjustly, please contact the Agency’s Equity Coordinator, Maria Cashman, at 319-399-6847 or 800-332-8488. Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

ADDRESS: 4401 Sixth Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
TELEPHONE: 319-399-6700 | 800-332-8488
Fax: 319-399-6457
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