A couple days ago, I was reading up an Aspie parent's concerns about her son and PE. Her concerns was that her son still couldn't be able to tie his shoes, as well as the fact that he has been beaten up once this school year. Making matters worse, the coach seemed to be like a drill sergent. This probably sounds like a possible school based OT scenario, doesn't it?
Based on what I read from the responses, I noticed schools will typically do it three ways. First, it would be setting up some sort of modified PE program for the kid. Second, the PE period will be converted into a study hall period. Third, the situation will remain status quo... probably until the problem is significant that warrants change. Now I am going to use my Aspie and OT perspective to analyze all this.
From an Aspie perspective, I remembered back when I was in PE... I occasionally had someone said nasty things about me. The common incidents where they took place was when I was playing basketball with a group of people after a while. I remembered the mean words they said, "Eww... the basketball is wet!" I knew it was directed at me because I am very prone to have sweaty hands, especially after playing basketball for several minutes. Unfortunately, this was something I never told any coach that I have experienced these verbal abuses... even though quite a bit of them actually like the fact that I gave everything I got.
Of course, I can go a little further back from my first days in the U.S. A similar thing happened in my dance elective in 6th grade, where each boy is supposed to find a girl to partner up for a dance, as the teacher facilitated it by the good o' random draw. I remembered one girl touched my hand during one of these instances, she was like, "Oh my god! I am stuck with you... and your hands are so sweaty!" I am sure this is one thing not many guys want to hear, and I am no exception. Sadly, this comment had stuck with me ever since!
From an Aspie perspective, that's why PE (and related activities where adequate social and/or play skills is a must) can sometimes really hurt an Aspie's self-esteem, reduce an already low confidence in social skills, make it less likely that he/she will engage in play, become averse to sports no matter how good he/she really is, and/or get his/her quality of life in school so low that he/she starts to dread about coming to school every day. (Of course, there could be more effects that I might not mention.) Therefore, study hall (or what some people call resource hours) probably is a happy medium where an Aspie can be in his/her own little world while spending time constructively. As for adaptive PE, it probably is a happy medium where an Aspie get to choose to do what he/she wants to do during PE while keeping the coach happy (in the fact that the child is at least engaged in some physical activity). Basically, what these things in common is that they provide an Aspie at least some level of comfort... much like some people might still want their blanket they have used from early childhood.
However, from an OT perspective, are these really good solutions? This is really a subject for debate... as you could argue for or against them.
From my OT perspective, I see both study hall and adaptive PE as restrictive environments. Moreover, they should be used as "stopgap measures" (particularly study hall), not as permanent solutions. Sure, each situation is unique and there are situations where study hall or adaptive PE will be more appropriate. But, I have the following criticisms.
1. Study Hall
a. Sure, the child will be engaged in an occupation (most likely reading and/or homework). But, I think it will be a more appropriate period to develop his/her social and/or play skills.
b. The quality of life element might be addressed short term (if the child choose to read a book that he/she wants to read, for example). How about long term? Also, you could argue that it actually encourage isolative behavior.
2. Adaptive PE (please correct me if I am wrong here... since I am not too sure about how adaptive PE works)
a. Where do you draw the line? In other words, what defines adequate participation?
b. There's a possibility that it lets an otherwise able physically able child (with little or no physical disabilities) to get away with not doing things that he/she is capable to do.
c. This is like pull-out model of OT, PE version, in a sense.
d. Would there be issue of stigma because of the fact that he/she is in adaptive PE?
That said (and you could possibly add in your only thoughts), what would you do if a caretaker demands that a child should either be placed in study hall or adaptive PE.
Anyway, I think that could be a good qualitative and/or quantitative research topic for school aged children with autism. I beileve that could be something useful (ala if there's more evidence that suggests the use of weighted blankets or vests) that school-based OT's could present the study's findings to the schools and parents.