Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Modifying Health Education Instruction for Middle School Children with Disabilities

Academic journal article VAHPERD Journal

Modifying Health Education Instruction for Middle School Children with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Introduction

The participation of a student with a disability in health education can often be both challenging and rewarding for the student and teacher. This article will address basic instructional modifications to improve the experience of students with disabilities in the health education setting with a particular focus on middle school. Initially the prevalence of students in special education will be presented. This will be followed by a discussion of the goals of health education, and its particular importance for a student with a disability. Next, a discussion of possible instructional modifications for working with children with disabilities in health lessons will be noted. Lastly, possible modifications for a specific middle school health lesson will be discussed.

During the 2008-2009 school year, 6.5 million of the nation's schoolchildren, ages 3 to 21, received special education services. Thirty-nine percent of those who received services (13 percent of public school enrollment) did so for a specific learning disability. It should be noted that most students with disabilities (86 percent of 6-21 year olds) spend the majority of their time in the general education classroom receiving modified instruction (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). One such setting is in middle school health education with general education peers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "The health of young people is strongly linked to their academic success, and the academic success of youth is strongly linked with their health." (CDC: Coordinated School Health, 2010, p. 1). Helping students stay healthy is a fundamental mission of schools. After the family, the school is the primary institution responsible for the development of young people. To aid schools in the achievement of their fundamental mission, the National Health Education Standards (NHES) have been developed. The NHES are goals for students, that when reached will promote personal, family, and community health. The standards provide a framework for the development of basic health education. Although attaining these goals might be considered very ambitious, it should be stressed that a student's ability to achieve them is very important as they help to ensure a healthy lifestyle through responsible decision making. The following is the list of National Education Health Standards:

* Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.

* Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.

* Standard 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information and products and services to enhance health.

* Standard 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.

* Standard 5: Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.

* Standard 6: Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting skills to enhance health.

* Standard 7: Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.

* Standard 8: Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health. (The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards, 2007).

Health education, which focuses on allowing students to engage in appropriate behaviors, is important for all students, especially for those with disabilities because of the common health concerns of these children. Such concerns may include items associated with breathing, mobility, and the heart--to name a few. The Coordinated School Health (CSH) Program, consisting of eight components, is a model that provides a framework for planning and coordinating school health activities (CDC: Components of Coordinated School Health, 2010). …

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