Supporting Students with Autism PE Teaching Strategies


Teaching physical education to students with autism requires a unique approach that addresses their specific needs and challenges. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies and techniques for supporting students with autism in PE classes.

Understanding Autism:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects individuals’ social interaction, communication, and behavior. Students with autism may have difficulty with sensory processing, social cues, and transitions, which can impact their participation in physical education activities.

Creating a Structured Environment:

Structure and routine are essential for students with autism. Create a predictable environment in the PE class by establishing clear rules, routines, and expectations. Use visual supports such as schedules, visual timers, and visual cues to help students understand what to expect and navigate the class activities effectively.

Providing Clear Instructions:

Students with autism may struggle with understanding verbal instructions or processing information quickly. Provide clear and concise instructions using simple language and visual supports. Break down tasks into smaller steps and provide demonstrations or modeling to help students understand what is expected of them.

Sensory Considerations:

Many students with autism have sensory sensitivities or sensory-seeking behaviors. Be mindful of the sensory environment in the PE class and make accommodations as needed. Provide sensory breaks or sensory-friendly equipment such as fidget toys or weighted vests to help students regulate their sensory input and stay focused during class.

Promoting Social Skills:

Physical education provides valuable opportunities for students with autism to develop social skills such as cooperation, communication, and teamwork. Incorporate cooperative activities, group games, and partner exercises into the PE curriculum to promote social interaction and collaboration among students. Provide explicit instruction and guidance on social skills, such as taking turns, sharing, and respecting personal space.

Offering Choice and Flexibility:

Students with autism may have preferences or sensitivities to certain activities or environments. Offer choices and flexibility in the PE class to accommodate individual differences and preferences. Allow students to choose from a variety of activities or modifications, and provide alternatives or adaptations as needed to ensure their participation and engagement.

Providing Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for motivating and encouraging students with autism. Use praise, rewards, and positive feedback to recognize students’ efforts and achievements in PE class. Celebrate their progress and successes, no matter how small, to boost their confidence and self-esteem.

Building Trust and Rapport:

Establishing trust and rapport with students is crucial for supporting their success in PE class. Take the time to build positive relationships with students, getting to know their interests, strengths, and challenges. Show empathy, patience, and understanding, and create a safe and supportive environment where students feel valued, respected, and accepted.

Collaborating with Support Professionals:

Collaboration between PE teachers and support professionals, such as special education teachers, occupational therapists, and behavior specialists, is essential for meeting the diverse needs of students with autism. Work together to develop individualized strategies and accommodations, share insights and observations, and collaborate on goal setting and progress monitoring.


By implementing these strategies and techniques, PE teachers can effectively support students with autism and create inclusive and accessible learning environments where all students can thrive and succeed. With empathy, flexibility, and collaboration, we can ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate, engage, and enjoy physical education. Read more about physical education for students with autism teaching tips and strategies