Special Education/Special Ed Teaching
QUESTION: Greetings! I am a special education teacher for adults with intellectual disabilities. Every day, this class of 35 intellectually disabled adults takes a trip to a gym for an hour where we have access to basketballs, soccerballs, and hand weights. I am out of ideas for fun games and group physical activities for these students, as they are all relatively high-functioning adults but still vary in their degree of disability. Could you please give me some ideas of games and/or physical activities I could try with these students, and/or recommend a book or resource that might do the same? I have searched tirelessly on the internet and am coming up short. Thank you so much for any help or suggestions that you may have!
ANSWER: Hello to you in TX, Joanna!
My expertise covers the areas of learning difficulties related to literacy / numeracy: spelling, reading, writing, math, dealing with numbers, some issues of dyspraxia, Asperger's, and memory underperformance. So your question is a stretch from a different area for me. But I don't give up easily and do happen to daily attend the gym myself, so albeit this is not within my realm of expertise, let me improvise:
One idea that immediately came to my mind is devising a game that will involve your students visualizing where they kick/throw a ball and then kicking/throwing it exactly to that place. Precision of both planning and action matters here. Visualisation and mental imagery is the core of my expertise, so I inevitably thought of that first. Perhaps one game could be that each student in turn prescribes an exact point to which s/he wants to kick/throw a ball and then does the kick/throw. Then this student and all others present will see how accurate the acting student's planning of the kick/throw was. This involves visualisation, assessment of distance, planning...
A second idea I have is devising games with balls that will strengthen balance and grounding. Since lack of grounding is often a huge issue for people with learning as much as intellectual challenges, the more grounded your students learn to be, the better. Balls are devices that challenge the balance, because only a skilled balancer will maintain balance on the point of a ball. So devising some group games for strengthening balance and grounding will be of huge benefit. I honestly don't know what exact description of an exact game to give. I just know that this idea would suit a great deal.
Resources: I don't know what to recommend, but the obvious one for me - which you may already have done long ago - is to talk to a staff member who works in the or a gym. If you've already tirelessly and extensively researched the subject, you'll know more on this than will I - I feel more like I'd learn a great deal from you here! Another idea is signing up for forums where fitness professionals congregate and throw the question into the ether... LinkedIn groups could also be an idea, or even Facebook, Twitter, Google+ - there must be someone out in the world who will advise you more comprehensively than I can.
You may think that I'm very conservative and uncreative suggesting these ideas, but one never knows - we all know a unique mixture of different things. And I have warned you that I'd improvise here, so if only 1 of my ideas adds value to you and your students, I'll be very happy. Nonetheless, your question, being it a stretch out of my area of expertise, will definitely remain in my thoughts on daily basis and that not only when I'm working out in the gym!
Thank you VERY MUCH for approaching me and giving me a valuable learning. I wish I could help you more!
With :) & +NRG,
[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Lucy,
I know that you don't accept ratings, but I just wanted to give you a big thank you for taking the time to write such a helpful and very detailed response to my questions. Your ideas of aiming the ball at a specific target are brilliant and already have my mind spinning with ideas. You have allowed me to rethink this and take this challenge in another direction, and I so do appreciate that! All your ideas are great and I am going to re-read this over several times to get the full jist of your advice. Thank you again!
Wow Joanna!!! You've made my month! I always get immense buzz out of adding value to people's lives! And your comment is worth much more to me than rating. [I don't accept rating, because I refuse to conform to the pigeonholing that rating tends to condition people to do - save to say the influence resultant from the ratings. I'm in a class of my own and happy to be so!] I tremendously appreciate your fantastic response and am very, VERY glad to have been helpful after all. Feel free to communicate with me anytime in future.