In 1838, physical activity began to receive special attention at the Perkins School for students with visual disabilities in Boston. Mostly because of the director of the school, he wanted the students to receive all the health benefits of physical activity. The students participated in gymnastic exercises and swimming. This was the first physical education program in the country for students who were blind. Early adapted physical education programs were medically oriented and preventative, developmental, or corrective in nature. The purpose was to prevent illness and promote health. Up until 1952, several schools many schools would excuse students with disabilities from physical education. In 1952 the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER) formed a committee to define adapted physical education and give direction for teachers. This committee defined adapted physical education as “a diversified program of developmental activities, games, sports, and rhythms suited to the interests, capacities, and limitations of students with disabilities who may not safely or successfully engage in unrestricted participation in the rigorous activities of the regular physical education program”. Lastly, in 1968, the Kennedy Foundation established the Special Olympics. This program has grown rapidly and holds competitions at local, state, national and international levels in an ever-increasing range of sports.
Important Laws for Adapted Physical Education
· 1973 The Rehabilitation act of 1973
o Designed to prevent discrimination and provide equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
· 1975 The Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975
o Designed to ensure that all children with handicapping conditions have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education (including physical education) and related services designed to meet their unique needs.
· 1978 The Armature Sports Act of 1978
o Passes to coordinate national efforts concerning armature activity, including activity associated with the Olympic Games.
· 1983 Amendments to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act
o Provided incentives to states to provide services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with handicapping conditions.
· 1986 Education for all Handicapped Children Amendments of 1986
o Expanded educational services to preschool children. Established programs of early intervention.
· 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
o Replaced the term “handicapped” with “disabilities,” expanded on types of services offered and disabilities covered.
· 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997
o Provided several changes in the law, including provisions for free appropriate education for all children with disabilities (ages 3 to 21); extension of a “developmental delay” provisions for children ages 3 to 9; emphasis on educational results; required progress reports for children with disabilities that are the same as those for children without disabilities; and changes in individualized education program (IEP) requirements.
· 1998 Olympic and Armature Sports Act
o The United States Olympic Committee assumed the role and responsibilities of the United States Paralympics Committee