There has been a rapid growth in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Children with Autism have delayed development of social, language, sensory and motor skills. Dr. Rebecca Lytle (Department of Kinesiology) is working to train the next generation of Adapted Physical Educators to work with these young people. Adapted Physical Education is an additional teaching credential that requires specialized training in helping persons with disabilities.
To meet the challenge of assisting children with autism and other disabilities in Northern California, Dr. Lytle founded several programs including KIDSPLAY, BEWEL and the Interdisciplinary Autism Clinic. These programs run out of the Adapted Physical Education Lab. Dr. Lytle was also awarded a 1.2 million dollar five year federal training grant from the Office of Special Education Programs to teach adapted physical educators to work with students with disabilities. The grant provides two years of funding for the senior year and credential/graduate degree year for about 20 students a year. Students not only receive financial support for their studies, they also have cutting-edge experience in professional collaboration essential in Adapted Physical Education.Dr. Lytle’s research is on how professionals in education, health care, and parents can work together to best help these children with disabilities. Students in her program receive valuable training in teamwork and professional collaboration in treating children with disabilities. Just like in their future careers, students work in interdisciplinary teams with other students in speech-language pathology, psychology, special education, nutrition, child development, or recreational therapy. Working as a team to assess and treat students with special needs is a vital professional skill in Adapted Physical Education.