Using Peers as Natural Supports for Students with Severe Disabilities in General Physical Education


  • Michelle Grenier University of New Hampshire


peer tutors, severe disabilities, physical education


Effectively building interpersonal skills is an expectation most teachers have for  their students in general physical education (GPE) regardless of their skills and abilities. Yet even the most experienced educator can be challenged by the task of including students with severe disabilities (SD). Using peers as natural supports in GPE is a practice teachers can use to promote positive interactions and gains in academic and social learning for students with SD (Cervantes, Lieberman, Magnesio, & Wood, 2013; Klavina & Block, 2008; Klavina & Block, 2013). Peer supports facilitate communicative behaviors through the use of scripts and planned behavioral sequences  (Carter & Hughes, 2006). In general, this requires students without disabilities understand the communication skills of the student with disabilities. This article provides suggestions for developing communication skills between students with SD and their peers in GPE. The adoption of a “holistic†perspective designed to assist teachers in identifying key communicative behaviors that can be used by peers for supporting students with SD will be described.





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