Suggestions to Modify Physical Education Instruction for Cerebral Palsy

Children who suffer with cerebral palsy–a neurological disorder that starts in infancy–can enjoy the same physical education activities as the other children in their class, using advanced planning and certain modifications. Body movement and muscle coordination are permanently affected, but the condition does not get worse as the child grows.

Assessing Abilities

Physical education teachers can perform an assessment of the child with cerebral palsy, to determine if the child is capable of performing the required movements for a particular activity, or if modifications will be necessary.

Teachers should focus on what activities a child can do, and provide encouragement to keep trying when the child is having difficulty, and provide praise when a particular activity is accomplished.


Using a softball mitt with Velcro makes the ball easier to catch because there is a wider surface area for the ball to stick to.

When it’s time to hit the ball, it’s easier for the child with cerebral palsy to use a batting tee that holds the ball in place, and a smaller or larger bat according to his preference.

Have the pitcher move closer to the batter, and shorten the distance between bases.

Students without disabilities, who are guarding the bases, should count to 10 before tagging out the child with cerebral palsy.

Provide frequent breaks to all the students, to keep them from tiring out too soon.


Use a brightly colored ball that’s lighter and softer, and lower the net.

When it’s time to serve the ball, stand closer to the net, and have a friend hold the ball so it’s easier to hit.

As the opposing team hits the ball over the net, allow the ball to bounce before hitting the ball back over the net.


Use different size balls with different weights, colors and materials.

If the child with cerebral palsy is in a wheelchair, let him travel down the court with the ball in his lap.

Make the basket larger–and lower–so that it’s easier to score, and let students dribble with both hands.

Allow more time to play the game, and don’t count violations.


Let students walk down the field instead of running, and reduce the size of the playing field.

If a child with cerebral palsy uses a wheelchair, let him carry the ball on his lap while pushing the wheelchair.

Instead of the traditional soccer ball, use a deflated ball, a ball that’s brightly covered, or a Nerf ball that’s softer and made of foam.

When students are about to score a goal, use a target that makes noise, so that students know they’ve scored a point.