The American Association of adaptedSPORTS Programs, Inc. (AAASP) works in cooperation and partnership with existing agencies throughout the U.S. to establish program oversight, policies, procedures, and regulations in education-based adapted sports.
What sports are offered though AAASP?
AAASP provides the following sanctioned interscholastic sports for students with physical disabilities in grades 1-12. The basic sports model and the one we suggest schools begin with includes:
- Fall – Wheelchair Team Handball
- Winter – Wheelchair Basketball
- Spring – Wheelchair Football and Wheelchair Track & Field
AAASP has also developed rules and training for the sports of Wheelchair Hockey (for power wheelchair users) and Beep Baseball (for the visually impaired). As programs grow, gaining particpants and additional support through resources, these can be added to the athletic offerings. Beep baseball can be played anytime in a classroom setting such a PE or adapted PE and incorporates sighted and visually impaired students on the same team. Additional events can also be added to track and field as warranted through interest or program growth.
What are some of the disabilities that eligible students have?
Examples of the types of disability groups served include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injury, amputee, muscular dystrophy, osteogenesis imperfecta and other physical disorders. A student must have a physical disability or qualifying sensory impairment.
What’s the primary difference between Special Olympics and adaptedSPORTS®?
Adapted sports athletes are not eligible for Special Olympics. The two organizations target different populations. AAASP serves students with physical disabilities while Special Olympics serves people with intellectual disabilities.
My child has a qualifying physical disability but does not use a wheelchair; can he/she still play?
Yes, all participants practice and compete in a wheelchair to help level the playing field and engage more students with physical disabilities in athletics. Local school member programs provide sports wheelchairs as part of their adapted sports equipment for students who do not use a wheelchair for mobility on a daily basis. Students who are ambulatory, use assistive devices or use a manual or power wheelchair are eligible. If your child uses a wheelchair for daily mobility then they can participate in their everyday chair. Wheelchair team handball and wheelchair football rules allow for the combing of manual and power wheelchair users. Wheelchair basketball rules allow for manual chair users only.
My school only has one student with a physical disability. How are teams formed?
AAASP policies allow for teams to be formed on a district-wide level and are comprised of students from elementary, middle and high schools within that district. In rural areas, several districts may collaborate to form teams.
What are some of the benefits parents have related their child receiving from participating in adapted sports?
The main physical benefits were an increase in upper body strength and muscle tone, and more importantly, an improvement in attitude toward therapy since their children were eager to be fit and strong so that they could play the sports and be competitive. It has been nothing short of a life changing experience for most of the children and their parents. The strongest psychological benefits were an increase in confidence and self-esteem, social interaction, and a drive for achieving goals. The strongest social benefits included an increase in social interaction and friendship with others, along with the development of a competitive spirit and becoming more friendly and polite in public.
The other top benefits mentioned by parents were:
- Opportunity to play sports that the kids would otherwise never have
- The ability to work hard, participate in a group, set goals, and excel in sports
- Respect and consideration for others
- Active engagement and friendship with other students, mentors and coaches
- Improvement in academics.
Does age division or gender divide teams?
Teams are co-ed. They are not divided by age, although a district may elect to field a junior varsity and/or varsity team.
Are adapted sports considered to be separate programs?
Can participating students receive their athletic letter?
Yes. The same recognition is afforded to students participating in adapted sports as to those participating in traditional sports.
AAASP employs athletics through a system called the adaptedSPORTS® Model. This award-winning model is an interscholastic structure of multiple sports seasons that are included in the traditional interscholastic athletic system and supports the concept that school-based sports are a vital part of the education process and the educational goals of students.
The sports featured in the adaptedSPORTS® Model have their origin in Paralympic and adult disability sports; however, they are innovative in that they are cross-disability in nature. AAASP has adapted these sports for the student-athlete based on their functional ability. By providing standardized competition rules, it is possible for the widespread implementation of an interscholastic adapted athletic system. Additionally, student athletes are developing the skills that can lead to participation at the collegiate, community and elite levels.