Preparing Adapted Physical Educators to Teach Students With Autism: Current Practices and Future Directions


  • Sean Healy University of Virginia
  • Joann P. Judge University of Virginia
  • Martin E. Block University of Virginia
  • Eun Hye Kwon Northeastern Illinois University



autism, autism spectrum disorder, adapted physical education, teacher education


For many students with autism spectrum disorder, physical education is the responsibility of an adapted physical education specialist. In this study, we examined the training focused on teaching students with autism spectrum disorder received by a sample of 106 adapted physical education specialists. Competencies necessary on a course to train adapted physical education specialists to work with students with autism spectrum disorder were also defined using a two-step process. First, a group of physical education and special education experts generated a provisional list of competencies that they saw as necessary. Participants in this study then provided their opinions on the validity of this list. Additional suggestions for future training were also sought from participants.

Author Biographies

Sean Healy, University of Virginia

Sean Healy1,MA, is a doctoral candidate in adapted physical education at the University of Virginia. His research interests include inclusive physical education and autism spectrum disorder.; 4342843047 (corresponding author)

Joann P. Judge, University of Virginia

Joann P. Judge1, M.Ed, CAPE is a doctoral student in adapted physical education at the University of Virginia. Research interests include autism spectrum disorder, technology, and adapted physical education.; 4342604796.

Martin E. Block, University of Virginia

Martin E. Block1 is a Professor in the Kinesiology Department, Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. He has written extensively on including students with disabilities in general physical education, and his current work focuses on improving teacher education programs to better prepare future physical educators for inclusion.; 4349819405

Eun Hye Kwon, Northeastern Illinois University

Eunhye Kwon, PhD, is an assistant professor of physical education at Northeastern Illinois University. Research interests include multicultural perspectives toward physical education and physical activities and online adapted physical education teacher training.