Adapted Physical Education

Contact :: Dreama McCoy, 984-236-2557

Physical Education (PE) and the Law

North Carolina state law requires physical education for all students. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Adapted Physical Education is required for those students with disabilities who require specially designed instruction in order to receive Physical Education. Physical Education includes:

  • Physical and motor fitness
  • Fundamental motor skills and patterns
  • Skills in individual and group games and sports, and activities (including intramural and life-time sports)

Physical education is a curricular area available to all students. If the student cannot participate in the general physical education program, specially designed individualized instruction in PE (Adapted PE) shall be provided.

What is Adapted Physical Education (APE)? 

Adapted Physical Education (also called specially designed instruction) is instruction in physical education that is designed on an individual basis to meet the needs of a child with a disability.

How is the Need for APE Determined?

  • The IEP team determines a student’s need for APE.
  • The IEP team should include an APE specialist, if available, and the general education PE teacher. When the PE curriculum, student needs and/or APE eligibility is being discussed by the IEP team, educators knowledgeable in the PE curriculum need to be present.
  • To determine eligibility, an APE evaluation must take place in accordance with NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities {NC 1500-2-11A}.
  • Goal (s) must be developed if eligibility for Adapted PE is determined.

Where is Adapted PE Provided? 

APE, like all special education, is offered in the least restrictive environment. Students with disabilities must be included to the maximum extent possible in the general physical education program. For students with disabilities who are receiving APE, and students who are participating in the general PE program with accommodations/modifications, a continuum of placement options may include one or more of the following:

  • General physical education setting
  • General PE setting with accommodations/modifications
  • General PE setting with assistance from staff and/or APE specialist
  • A separate PE class setting with peers and additional staff as needed
  • Separate public school

The inclusion of students with disabilities into the general PE curriculum should not compromise the learning of other students in the class setting. However, supplementary aids and supports must be tried before placing a student in a more restrictive setting.


Tab/Accordion Items

Adapted Physical Education Winter Webinar

Title:  APE Report Writing

Presenter:  Dr. Kaky McPeak

Title:  Authentic Assessment in APE

Presenter:  Dr. Kaky McPeak

Adapted Physical Education Fall Webinar

Title: The APE Referral Process-How to Avoid Pitfalls!

Presenter: Dr. Kaky McPeak

Adapted Physical Education Spring Webinar

Title: APE Screenings and Assessments-How Do I Pick the Right One? What's Next?

Presenter: Dr. Kaky McPeak

Adapted Physical Education Spring Webinar

Title: APE & Present Level of Performance

Date: April 11, 2024

Presenter: Dr. Kaky McPeak

Here you can find NC educational policies that define and explain adapted physical education, how eligibility is determined and how it should be provided.

NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (June 2010)

NC 1500-2.1 Adapted physical education

(a) Children with disabilities shall have equal access to the provision of physical education. Physical education includes the development of:

  1. Physical and motor fitness;
  2. Fundamental motor skills and patterns; and
  3. Skills in individual and group games, sports, and activities (including intramural and life-time sports).

(b) If a child with a disability cannot participate in the regular physical education program, individualized instruction in physical education designed to meet the unique needs of the child shall be provided. Physical education may include:

  1. Modified physical education,
  2. Adapted/special physical education,
  3. Movement education, and
  4. Motor development. 

(c) Modified physical education is appropriate for a child who can participate in the general physical education program with accommodations or modifications. These modifications can include changing rules, equipment, time limits, etc. It can also include supports such as a sign language interpreter. (d) Adapted physical education (also called specially designed or special physical education) is instruction in physical education that is designed on an individual basis specifically to meet the needs of a child with a disability. 
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1401; 34 CFR 300.39(2)(3))

NC 1500-2.34 Special education

(a) General.

  1. Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including 
    1. instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and
    2. Instruction in physical education
  2. Special education includes each of the following, if the services otherwise meet the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section – 
    1. Speech-language pathology services,
    2. Travel training; and
    3. Vocational education.

(b) Individual special education terms defined. The terms in this definition are defined as follows:

  1. At no cost means that all specially-designed instruction is provided without charge, but does not preclude incidental fees that are normally charged to nondisabled students or their parents as a part of the regular education program.
  2. Physical education means – 
    1. The development of – 
      1. Physical and motor fitness;
      2. Fundamental motor skills and patterns; and
      3. Skills in games and sports.
    2. Includes special physical education, adapted physical education, movement education, and motor development. 
  3. Specially designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible child under these Policies, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction-- 
    1. To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child's disability; and
    2. To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children…

(Authority: 20 U.S.C.1401(29); 34 CFR 300.39)

Adapted PE 101 (Download the PDF) (Download PowerPoint)

NC Policies Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities and Guiding Practices

Handbook on Parent’s Rights

Forms used statewide

NC DPI Liaison for Adapted Physical Education: Dreama McCoy 984-236-2557

Lending Library (Books, assessments, and resources that may be borrowed.)

APE and SBPT Collaborating for Student Success

Here you can find many websites and resources focused on adapted physical education and similar topics.

Where to start?

  • NC DPI has a Liaison for Adapted Physical Education. Please contact Dreama McCoy 984-236-2557
  • NC Adapted Physical Education Brochure.
  • Physical education teachers, coaches, adapted physical education specialists and related service providers such as occupational and physical therapists.
  • Contact local organizations such as Special Olympics, soccer club, baseball league, parks and recreation departments, etc.
  • Develop relationships between school and community organizations, ask for equipment and uniforms, after school opportunities.
  • Communicate with other schools and school systems. What are they doing? Can you borrow from them?
  • Civic organizations to provide volunteers and donations of needed PE equipment.
  • There are many more resources and websites available. Ask your PE staff. Go Online. Have Fun!

LEA Websites

Pitt County APE Website


APE and Activity for People with Disabilities

NC SHAPE Summer Health Education Series: These webinars will meet every Monday and Thursday through July and offer insight into various Health Education Topics. Has a link at the top of the home page: adapted. Lots of ideas to adapt sports. Non-profit organization that supports children and adults with disabilities to play team and individual sports (On Facebook as bridge2sports) NC Office on Disability and Health Kids activity pyramid (like nutrition pyramid) Be Active NC (Special Olympics North Carolina) look for coaches resources for great tips, assessment sheets, skills progression etc. Shape America (National Ctr on physical activity and disability) National Organization on Disability Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (recreation) (BAM: Body and Mind) interactive tool for teens to increase activity guide to reliable consumer health info


Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® Inclusion for All toolkit

In response to the call for equality and inclusion that is so important and relevant in today's climate, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® has put together an "Inclusion for All" toolkit to be used as a resource and discussion tool. This collection of resources can be used to address the questions and conversations about inequality, racism, and exclusion that youth leaders may have. While Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is just one voice in an ocean of voices, it is our responsibility to foster this change and these conversations. The goal of these resources is to support youth as they are finding their own voices and to think critically and responsibly as part of the Unified Generation. Access the Inclusion for All toolkit.


Specific Diagnoses (Spina Bifida Association) (Brain and Spinal Cord) Washington State University Brachial Plexus Center (hearing impairment) BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (resources for sensory impairments) (American Printing House for the Blind) Clearing house for lots of resources and materials.


Equipment Will put you in touch with donors to provide equipment. American Printing House for the Blind: Books and equipment. School Specialty: Equipment =Sportime and Abilitations are now found within the School Specialty Website. Human Kinetics: Books, DVD, etc. including Adapted PE. Flaghouse: Physical Education and Giant Leaps (for special populations).


Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind Act:

Center for Parent Information and Resources 

Special Educ. Law Bulletins:

Special Interest Organizations NC Council n Developmental Disabilities Easter Seals (Council for Exceptional Children) The Arc of North Carolina