Activity ideas for students with severe/profound/multiple disabilities.
Effectively teaching students who have severe, profound, and multiple disabilities can be quite challenging. Imagination and creativity are essential. Sometimes one educator's idea will spark several new adaptations or new activity ideas. A few people sharing a few good ideas can cascade into a food of great new ideas "New Ideas" is the debut single by Scottish New Wave/Indie Rock act The Dykeenies. It was first released as a Double A-side with "Will It Happen Tonight?" on July 17, 2006. The band also recorded a video for the track. .
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to suggest some realistic ideas for teaching students with severe disabilities. Hopefully, many of these activities will prove to be useful. Furthermore, it is hoped that with a little imagination, many more new ideas will be born.
Our program consists of six separate units of instruction for the school year--(a) Cause and Effect, (b) Balls, (c) Group Activities, (d) Music, (e) Movement Activities, and (f) Recreational Activities. Often there is overlap with some activities, as they may fit within more than one unit. If they are exciting activities this is welcomed, as learning is made easier through repetition and fun as effective reinforcers.
Finally, although these ideas are ideal for self-contained classes, most should work well in inclusive settings, as well. Strategies to incorporate these successfully in such settings are presented within the following discussions.
Unit One: Cause and Effect
The following activities are helpful to use when teaching the concept of cause and effect.
* Hanging Noise. Suspend a rope or net between two volleyball standards. Hang pots, pans, tambourines, bells, anything that will make some noise when students pass under/through them with their wheelchairs. Students seem to love this activity. Often, the more noise they can make, the prouder they are. Another variation is to suspend cans, bells, pots, from a pole suspended across a high jump standard (or even across the backs of two chairs) and have students toss bean bags at this hanging wall of noise. Manual assistance ensures everyone participates Get as close as needed as needed prn. See prn order. . This facilitates range of motion, as well as grasping and releasing skills, however minimal these skills may be. Older children may wish to form mock teams for cooperative fun--teams which make the most noise win. Rotate team members often to ensure that all are winners; let fun and controlled chaos reign!
* Knock It Off. Set balls of different sizes and colors on T-ball stands or traffic cones of different heights. A toilet bowl plunger can be placed upside down in a cone to accommodate larger balls which may roll off a cone or tee. While explaining this activity to students, push them in their wheelchairs by this set-up and ask them to try to knock off to cease, as from work; to desist.
- De Quincey.
To force off by a blow or by beating.
To assign to a bidder at an auction, by a blow on the counter.
To leave off (work, etc.).
See also: Knock Knock Knock Knock the balls. A string or leash may be attached to the balls to minimize fetch time required to set back up and re-load this fun activity. Tactile balls, bell balls, anything which makes noise is helpful for students who are blind and much more fun for all involved.
* Blowing Games. Blowing games with soap bubbles, ping pony balls on a table top or in the water, and pin wheels are usually a hit with students with quadriplegia quadriplegia: see paraplegia. . Medically, it is important that activities like these be done to maintain and improve respiratory function as much as possible.
* Scooter Boards. Scooter boards come in many different sizes and shapes. Select (buy or build) one large enough to support even recumbent recumbent /re·cum·bent/ (re-kum´bent) lying down.
Lying down, especially in a position of comfort; reclining. students. Strap them on securely. Most of these students are not too fragile to be spun around by teachers, aides, or classmates Classmates can refer to either:
Obviously, great care is necessary for more fragile students; those with shunts should not be spinning wildly. But the point is that many students can safely participate in this (organized chaos), want to do so, and love it. It is necessary to understand each child's medical situation and adhere to adhere to
verb 1. follow, keep, maintain, respect, observe, be true, fulfil, obey, heed, keep to, abide by, be loyal, mind, be constant, be faithful
2. activity contraindications; however, it is not necessary to be over protective. Too many students are never taken out of their wheelchairs when they can and should be.
* Mats. Students can lie or sit on mats and be dragged around, even for relay races. A gentler variation of the preceding scooter activities is to take a small gym mat, approximately three feet by two feet in diameter, and put two holes in one end and string a rope through to make a handle (like a sled). Gently lay the child upon the mat and pull it around (again, like a sled). This works wonderfully for students who have severe physical disabilities that preclude them from being placed on a hard surface. Students can be placed in doughnut type mats and creep forward causing the mat to revolve around Verb 1. revolve around - center upon; "Her entire attention centered on her children"; "Our day revolved around our work"
center, center on, concentrate on, focus on, revolve about them (like treads on a tank). They creep forward, and the result is an advancement of their tank tread mat.
* Stretch Bands. Therabands or bicycle inner tubes make great sling shots. The ammo can be a soft bean bag, nerf ball, or even students themselves as they sit in their wheelchairs!
* Playground Swings. Often a student's feeding chair can be safely and securely fastened to playground swings to allow the most severely involved student to swing alongside peers.
* Parachute Play. The common group activities with parachutes are possible with most students. If everyone sits around the parachute, even students with the most severe disabilities can interact on the same level. Some of these students enjoy just lying in the middle of the parachute and then being spun around. Others enjoy lying on a mat and having the parachute moved up and down above them.
Unit Two: Balls
The following activities are examples of popular activities with balls.
* Ball Bins. Even the most severely involved students can enjoy the tactile stimulation, safety, and fun of sitting, lounging, or rolling around in a bin of plastic balls. If buying such a bin is out of the question, make one with mat borders lined with a parachute. A plastic wading pool or a new or clean sandbox can be used for starters. Foam balls, nerf balls, even sponges as balls can be used if plastic bin balls are too expensive. Even old tennis balls or homemade newspaper balls can be used if necessary. Children love receiving a shower of soft balls falling upon them and around them as they gather to fill up their dry wading pool of ball water. Creativity abounds.
* Big Ball. Have students gather in a small circle. They can stand or sit, with or without a wheelchair or stander. Take a huge beach ball, cage ball A cage ball is a large, inflated ball, used in many American elementary schools physical education programs. Cage balls typically have a diameter of 48" or 60", though 72" diameter models are available, commercially. , or therapy ball (whatever is available) and start to roll it around within the circle. Make sure the ball is large enough to obligate obligate /ob·li·gate/ (ob´li-gat) pertaining to or characterized by the ability to survive only in a particular environment or to assume only a particular role, as an obligate anaerobe. it being touched by all students it comes near. Each student's touch can be the throw to the next student. If possible, many students enjoy being able to shed their shoes and push the ball with their bare feet bare feet
symbol of impoverishment. [Folklore: Jobes, 181]
See : Poverty . Sensory stimulation sensory stimulation,
n in acupuncture, the practice of inserting needles into skin and tissue to coax the body into using its energy to heal itself. , aiming skills, confidence, group work, and fun are products of this game.
* Hanging Balls. Suspend balls of all sizes, textures, colors, and softness from a basketball goal (or whatever). Students can now play many games. You, or they, can roll their chairs (selves) into them. They can use a whiffle whif·fle
v. whif·fled, whif·fling, whif·fles
1. To move or think erratically; vacillate.
2. ball bat to strike them (if they cannot hold the bat, the bat can be fastened to their hands, arm, or wheelchair). They can try tether tether
to tie an animal up by the head or neck so that it can graze but not move away. See also barton tether. ball with a friend. Activities are only limited by the imagination.
* Ball Trays. Balls and other objects such as bowling pins can be placed on table tops or trays. They can be knocked down by a swinging tethered Attached to a data or power source by wire or fiber. Contrast with untethered. ball (like table top tether ball), or they can be knocked down by whiffle bat armed students, or by students' bare hands (or other body parts). Ball trays can be made from firm cardboard three feet long by two feet wide; add an edge to the length to cover with contact paper. This will allow two students to face each other with the ball tray between them, resting on their trays or laps. Now students can roll a ball to each other affording independent peer play with little or no help from the teacher.
* Soccer Throw In. In inclusive situations, as during a soccer game on the grass (students in wheelchairs can participate equally in soccer on hard top surfaces), the student with disabilities, perhaps in a wheelchair, can be the person who throws the soccer ball back into the field of play. The student is not the fetcher or the score keeper, but has an integral, physical, strategy-requiring role in the game. Obviously, this also works for basketball (and many other games, as well). When a goal is made, the ball can be thrown in bounds by the student in a wheelchair. Certainly, students in wheelchairs can take more active roles than even this in most hard surface games; wheelchair basketball Wheelchair basketball is a sport played primarily by people with disabilities. In some countries such as Canada, Australia and England, able-bodied athletes are allowed to compete alongside other athletes on mixed teams. athletes are among the most elite athletes of any sport.
Unit Three: Group Activities
* Parachute Activities. So versatile and enticing, these activities can fit in multiple categories (cause and effect, balls, and even in the music unit). Group cooperation, sensory stimulation, and just plain fun can all be achieved through participation in parachute games. The parachute can be fastened to the child (or even the wheelchair) if the child cannot grasp it independently.
* Relays. Make these fun! Usually, the more zany, the less stressful and competitive they are. To maximize participation, emphasize fun. More severely involved students can zoom their wheelchairs (with or without help from the teacher) up and back between cone targets, simply having to knock something off the cone to prove they made their designated distance. They can also nudge something off their laptrays into an awaiting bucket or other container (i.e., net, target).
* Mr. Rubberband. This is a wonderful activity involving a large stretchy stretch·y
adj. stretch·i·er, stretch·i·est
1. Capable of being stretched: a stretchy fabric.
2. Tending to stretch excessively.
Adj. 1. band (isotonic isotonic /iso·ton·ic/ (-ton´ik)
1. denoting a solution in which body cells can be bathed without net flow of water across the semipermeable cell membrane.
2. band, bungee cord) with which groups can encircle en·cir·cle
tr.v. en·cir·cled, en·cir·cling, en·cir·cles
1. To form a circle around; surround. See Synonyms at surround.
2. To move or go around completely; make a circuit of. themselves, play tug of war tug of war
n. pl. tugs of war
1. Games A contest of strength in which two teams tug on opposite ends of a rope, each trying to pull the other across a dividing line.
2. (both end-to-end to form a straight line, but also with three equi-distant teams to form a triangle, or four teams to make a square). The group can also encircle itself with it, form a line and march, play choo-choo, and more. The group can also form a circle with the rubber band in the middle with everyone grasping it, and do seated or standing exercises. In all these examples, the band can easily be fastened to a student, wheelchair, or gurney gurney /gur·ney/ (gur´ne) a wheeled cot used in hospitals.
n. pl. gur·neys
A metal stretcher with wheeled legs, used for transporting patients. , if it can not be grasped independently by the student. A series of old (but washed) bicycle inner tubes can be substituted for the stretchy band when commercial stretch bands are not affordable.
* Pass the Rubber Ring. Have students enjoy sitting in a very tight circle, shoulder-to-shoulder, while trying to pass an object around, such as a rubber ring, a spongy spongy /spon·gy/ (spun´je) of a spongelike appearance or texture.
Resembling a sponge in appearance, elasticity, or porosity. ball, or some other object. By sitting closely, chance of dropping and losing the object in the process is diminished, thus maximizing playing time and minimizing fetching time.
* Tag An oldie old·ie
Something old, especially a song that was once popular.
Informal an old song, film, or person
Noun 1. but goodie good·ie
Variant of goody1. with infinite variations. Freezing and unfreezing people allow more easily tagged students to get multiple other chances of escaping the tagger tag·ger
1. One that tags, especially the pursuer in the game of tag.
2. taggers Very thin sheet iron, usually plated with tin.
Noun 1. . This works very well on gym floors or other hard surfaces when wheelchairs are present.
* Duck, Duck, Goose There are many variations of this; we suggest leaving out the head patting part. We have renamed the game Drop the Handkerchief, which reflects another modification; the handkerchief drops more slowly and softly which keeps the game inviting to more children.
* Crash the Cans. Often an activity as zany as building a can pyramid and then running the student in the wheelchair into it just to see, feel, and hear the cans crash down motivates and thrills even the most reticent students. Obviously this would also fit nicely in the cause and effect category.
Unit Four: Music
* Songs with Themes. Music facilitates learning and alleviates monotony. Have students act out themes as they listen to them. Give physical assistance to those who need it. Students with hearing impairments can often pick up on the beat and can hear some of the lower, more vibrating vibrating,
v using quivering hand motions made across the client's body for therapeutic purposes. notes and tones. Play songs about trains and have children line up and choo-choo around a town. Play songs about dinosaurs and have children imitate some dinosaur movements. The list is endless.
* Songs with Holiday Themes. Play songs about the Easter Bunny or other catchy spring tunes and have an Easter Egg An undocumented function hidden in software that may or may not be sanctioned by management. Easter Eggs are secret "goodies" found by word of mouth or accident. They are also used in video games, movies, TV commercials, DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs and every so often in hardware. hunt; anything can be used as eggs (bright balloons, balls, pogs, etc.). Even severely involved children can run their chairs into a homemade pinata, specially designed to spill out Verb 1. spill out - be disgorged; "The crowds spilled out into the streets"
spill over, pour out
pour, pullulate, swarm, teem, stream - move in large numbers; "people were pouring out of the theater"; "beggars pullulated in the plaza" its candy or toys with the slightest nudge. Valentines Day may be a good time to introduce various types of dancing.
* Dancing with Students in Wheelchairs. Dancing is a highly versatile activity. Line dances, square dance, rap dancing, dancing from the 60s and 70s (the jerk, the monkey, the swim, the Freddie, and so many more can all be done fantastically in a wheelchair).
* ROMaerobics. This is a name given to an activity using the multiple discipline of music, physical education, speech, physical or occupational therapy, and even art together, interactively. For example, a physical therapist may help a child work on sitting and balancing postures while the child catches and rolls a ball to music, perhaps toward a target he/she painted, while trying to pronounce the words correctly for the number of times the ball is thrown/caught or whatever. Another example is to select songs about body parts; the therapist, teacher, or aide can manipulate the body part being sung about. Even just touching the body part being sung about helps the student feel more a part of a lesson. The touch can be a gentle rub, pat, shake, or even a brief tickle to get a laugh or show some warmth. This is truly transdisciplinary and integrative. Communication among various professionals is optimized at the child's benefit.
* Workout Videotapes. Sitting workout tapes are becoming easier to find. Richard Simmons For other persons named Richard Simmons, see Richard Simmons (disambiguation).
Richard Simmons (born Milton Teagle Richard Simmons July 12, 1948) is a fitness expert who promotes weight-loss programs, most famously through a line of aerobics videos and has a tape entitled Reach for Fitness which is specifically designed for users of wheelchairs. Mousercise (Walt Disney Noun 1. Walt Disney - United States film maker who pioneered animated cartoons and created such characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck; founded Disneyland (1901-1966)
Disney, Walter Elias Disney ) can be adapted for children with disabilities. Our school board (Alachua County) has an excellent videotape, Arms Alive, available for the cost of the tape (about five dollars) which is geared toward late elementary-aged students through adults. Very motivating, current songs are used with a multitude of interesting, helpful, and safe exercises. This can be ordered by contacting Ann Goodman, c/o Sidney Lanier Sidney Lanier (February 3, 1842 – September 7, 1881) was an American musician and poet. Early life and war
Sidney Clopton Lanier was born February 3, 1842, in Macon, Georgia, to parents Robert Sampson Lanier and Mary Jane Anderson; he was mostly of English Carter, 312 N.W. 16th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601.
Feel free to adapt movements (e.g., from the videotapes), or even physically assist students as needed. If students cannot do it at first, do it for them! Yes, passive exercising, especially in a group setting with music, is a wonderful, motivating activity. It is surprising how much students learn and take on themselves in time.
Unit Five: Locomotor lo·co·mo·tor or lo·co·mo·tive
Of or relating to movement from one place to another.
of or pertaining to locomotion. Movements
* Scooter Boards. If students can propel their own scooter boards, wonderful! Often they may only need some assistance to get going. Some of the more severely involved students may need full assistance (pushing, pulling, and spotting) for the entire ride. It does not matter how much assistance is needed; what matters is the experience of traveling from one point in space to another in the most fun-filled, exciting way possible. Even our more fragile students love to use a larger, softer, adapted scooter, and have the feeling of zooming and spinning around with peers. Obviously, care must be taken as needed (students with shunts due to hydrocephalus hydrocephalus (hī'drəsĕf`ələs), also known as water on the brain, developmental (congenital) or acquired condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of body fluids within the skull. do not need to be spun around). Still, many more students than one might think can safely participate in this activity and would be thrilled to do so; just give them the chance'
* Obstacle Course obstacle course
1. A training course filled with obstacles, such as ditches and walls, that must be negotiated speedily by troops undergoing training or participants in an obstacle race.
2. . This is the gold standard which allows for exploration, problem solving problem solving
Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error. , and individualized in·di·vid·u·al·ize
tr.v. in·di·vid·u·al·ized, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·ing, in·di·vid·u·al·iz·es
1. To give individuality to.
2. To consider or treat individually; particularize.
3. teaching due to its informal station format. Be creative! Students in electric wheelchairs or gurneys can negotiate interesting and safe courses. For example, just having them move through a series of multi-colored plastic flags hung from a clothesline is safe, stimulating, and fun. Many other similarly interesting and adaptable ideas for the course can be gleaned from some of the other instructional units described here. Slalom courses for students in electric wheelchairs are common events in some sport contests involving athletes with disablities. The obstacle course format allows for virtually any skill or activity to be taught within its framework. With the use of seasonal themes, plus a little creativity, this activity can be everyone's favorite.
* Body Bowling. This is another popular event in which with care even more severely involved students can participate safely. In this activity, the student rolls his/her body into bowling pins, or plastic pins, trying to knock down as many as possible within a specified time frame. Students who cannot roll independently can have help to do so. Feel free to use a mat for comfort. For the most severe disabilities, a student can lie supine and turn his/her head toward the pins. This often facilitates extension of the limbs on this side (due to the asymmetric tonic neck reflex which is often present in children with neurologic deficits), which can then reach the pins to knock over.
* Barrel Rolling. Students love crawling into a barrel (often a hollow round or hexagonal hex·ag·o·nal
1. Having six sides.
2. Containing a hexagon or shaped like one.
3. Mineralogy mat). The teacher and/or classmates can carefully, slowly, push (roll) each other around. This is a vigorous and stimulating experience for all.
* Haunted House A haunted house is defined as building that is believed to be a center for supernatural occurrences or paranormal phenomena. A haunted house may contain ghosts, poltergeists, or even malevolent entities. (play fort, club house or whatever). Children love to crawl, roll, or scooter board under a table with sheets hanging down to hide or briefly gather with their peers to plot their next activity. Simply put, hang some sheets from a table, call the game what you wish, and the children will be attracted to it like a magnet. They may problem solve their own ways of being able to locomote themselves to it--variations are endless.
Unit Six: Recreational Activities
These are specifically geared toward helping children learn activities and games they may encounter at home so they can better participate with others.
* Water Play. Warmer months invite use of sprinklers, hoses, water tables, small plastic pools, water balloons, squeeze/squirt bottles, squirt guns, water slides, and more. Even students with several disabilities can usually find a way to pull a trigger on that squirt gun to soak their favorite teacher or peer. These activities also provide excellent opportunities to teach safety, fair play, and respect for others. Learning where to draw the line with this controlled chaos is important. It may be required that all water balloons be thrown at inanimate objects Inanimate Objects
the study of inanimate things.
the assignment to inanimate objects, forces, and plants of personalities and wills, but not souls. — animatistic, adj. , not people. Relay races with water balloons can work to keep excitement, but channel away the desire to drench drench
1. to give medicines in liquid form by mouth and forcing the animal to drink. See also drenching.
2. medicines given as a drench. others.
* Instruction in Aquatics. Swimming skills, aquatics safety, and hydrotherapy hydrotherapy, use of water in the treatment of illness or injury. Although the medicinal and hygienic value of water was recognized by the early Greeks, hydrotherapy attained its widest use in the 18th and 19th cent. are invaluable activities for students with even the most severe disabilities. Water is a great equalizer--gravity is no longer the enemy. A student with minimal strength can move freely in water. Good teaching, buoyancy aides, swim masks, pool toys Pool Toys is an episode of the animated series Beavis and Butt-head, from the fourth season. Synopsis
Mr. Anderson is building a swimming pool and has dug a large hole in his yard. Beavis and Butt-Head have offered to help for money, an offer that Mr. , and the like can all help to ensure that the aquatics experience will be optimal for all. Strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination, self-esteem, social skills, and games skills are all easily attainable goals when using the magic of water.
* Sandbox Play. Young children just love the feel of sand. Older children can create sand structures and roadways all day long, if allowed. Often the chore of child cleanup is well worth the enjoyment experienced. Elevated sand tables for students in wheelchairs make this medium more accessible and less difficult to clean-up afterward.
* Chalk. A colorful bucket of sidewalk chalk
* Painting. Students love to paint. Whether it is with fingers, sponges, potatoes, or real paint brushes, they love to paint. Water colors and smocks help clean-up time tremendously. Painting with shaving cream is exciting and even easier to clean up.
* Croquet croquet (krōkā`), lawn game in which the players hit wooden balls with wooden mallets through a series of 9 or 10 wire arches, or wickets. The first player to hit the posts placed at each end of the field wins. , Horseshoes, Shuffleboard shuffleboard, sport in which players use cue sticks to push disks onto a scoring diagram at either end of a concrete or terrazzo court. The court is 52 ft (15.85 m) long and 6 ft (1.83 m) wide. The bases of the triangular scoring diagrams are parallel to and 8 ft (2. . These classic games are fun, and all can be played from a sitting position. Thus, little or no modifications are needed with these activities, which should help motivate students to try these activities at home as well.
* Bowling This activity can be taught at school, but the end of the semester field trip to a bowling center can serve as a great motivator. Balls can be lighter weight and can be purchased with retractable re·tract
v. re·tract·ed, re·tract·ing, re·tracts
1. To take back; disavow: refused to retract the statement.
2. handles. Bowling ramps can be purchased or easily made. Bowling guide rails can be used for students with visual impairments. With a few modifications, virtually everyone can enjoy this sport.
Remember, keep the activities and the equipment age appropriate. Adaptations can be major, minor, or absent entirely based on need; but when they are used, think about what is appropriate for students' ages. Even secondary students with elementary level intellectual functioning deserve the dignity of age-appropriate adaptations.
Do not underestimate the effectiveness of letting students decide on games to play and/or modifications to make. Within the bounds of safety and reason...let them explore; allow them to benefit from their experiences--this is learning.
Finally, keep activities geared for fun and success. Yes, fun is not a bad thing; it is a wonderful motivator for all. Fun is an important goal to achieve every day. Students have a lot more fun if they are successful with their efforts. Successful programs are motivating because they are fun. Also, when teachers appear to be having a great time, students usually have the best of times. Keep it safe, keep it interesting, and keep it fun!
Stopka, C.B., & Sullivan, P. (1992). Mainstreaming disabled children into physical education: Adapted equipment ideas to make it happen. Dubuque: Kendall-Hunt.
Christine Stopka is an associate professor in the Department of Exercise & Sport Sciences at the University of Florida University of Florida is the third-largest university in the United States, with 50,912 students (as of Fall 2006) and has the eighth-largest budget (nearly $1.9 billion per year). UF is home to 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes. where she directs the Exercise Therapy Program, as well as the graduate program in Special Physical Education. She is a NATA NATA National Athletic Trainers' Association
NATA National Association of Testing Authorities (Australia)
NATA National Air Transportation Association (Alexandria, VA, USA) certified trainer, a licensed athletic trainer in the State of Florida, and an NSCA NSCA National Systems Contractors Association
NSCA National Strength & Conditioning Association
NSCA National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection (UK)
NSCA National Street Car Association
NSCA Nebraska Sprint Car Association certified strength and conditioning specialist. Ann Goodman is an adapted physical education Adapted physical education is a sub-discipline of physical education. It is an individualized program created for students who require a specially designed program for more than 30 days. teacher with the Sidney Lanier Center which serves state-referred students with mental and multiple disabilities in Gainesvlle, Florida. Claudia Siders is a special education teacher in the nine-county referral unit for physically impaired students at the Howard Bishop Middle School Howard Bishop Middle School is a school located in Gainesville, FL. This is the wirst school ever! but pe is awesome in Gainesvlle, Florida.