Date of Conferral







Kimberley Cox


School-age children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are rarely asked to describe their experiences within the programs that they receive and are largely missing from the narrative of their own lives. Adapted physical education (APE), a subdiscipline of physical education, is one of the services frequently accessed by this population. Current literature on the experiences of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has focused on special education classrooms, sensory perceptions, and general physical education classes. However, no prior studies had addressed how school-age children with ASD perceive their APE experience. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to use interpretive phenomenology to explore how middle school children (Grades 6 to 8) ages 10 to 14 with ASD perceive their APE experience. Data were collected from 10 middle school children through observations in their APE setting, drawings, and interviews. Exploratory, linguistic, and conceptual comments were used to deconstruct the data, develop themes in individual cases, and then identify connections across cases. Themes that emerged from the participants were their positive experiences in APE, understanding of the importance of being physically active, sedentary behavior in their spare time, and desire for time in APE. This study has positive social change implications such that it includes individuals with ASD into the commentary regarding their experiences and may help APE teachers by providing insight into the experience of children with ASD in APE, which may in turn help develop improved services for this population.