Inclusive PE — It IS Possible (and Should Be)!
Using picture books to encourage children with ASD to engage in physical activity
A recent study from the University of Missouri addresses the fact that a lot of research focuses on helping children with autism gain greater access to academic education, but there’s a gap when it comes to physical education. Lorraine Becerra, a teaching professor at MU’s College of Education, who led the research, explains that not much is known “about how increasing physical activity for children with developmental disabilities” can improve their lives at school.
In her study, Becerra set out to find affordable ways to increase opportunities for exercise (especially if your child attends a school with fewer financial resources) and to develop exercise programs that are actually enjoyable for students.
Becerra created fitness picture books that feature “step-by-step images of various exercises, such as jumping jacks, bear crawls, and lunges.” Her findings show that encouraging students with autism to use these books doubled the amount of time they engaged in physical activity. “If we can get kids with autism more physically engaged, they are more likely to run around and play with their peers, so there are other aspects of their life we can improve as well,” she adds.
Becerra particularly wanted to work with picture books because of the increased access they provide educators, parents, and caregivers looking to bring inclusive PE into children’s routines.
Read more about the study in this press brief.