Mar 7, 2024

The International Scientific Conference “Theory and Practice in Adapted Physical Education (APE)”, which was organized by the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the Federation and Ruler of Sharjah concluded today. The conference was held in scientific partnership with California State University - Chico from the United States of America and Sharjah Education Academy on March 6 and 7, 2024.

Prior to the commencement of the conference sessions, SCHS President Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela bint Muhammad Al Qasimi met with the speakers and attendees. During the meeting, she greeted them and expressed her appreciation for their willingness to work with SCHS to raise awareness of the value of APE in the local and global communities and to work toward achieving more results that will enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.

The head of SCHS confirmed that the presence of the brothers who spoke and participated in the conference is clear evidence of their great interest in the subject of APE. She called on them to come up with new ideas and innovations that contribute to achieving clear and tangible progress that benefits everyone.

The first theme: Rehabilitation

The conference sessions began after the opening ceremony. Professor Dr. Rebecca Lytle spoke in the first session, which was chaired by Professor Marcy Pope from California State University - Chico, within the “Rehabilitation” theme. She discussed “methodology, measurement, sources, and evaluation in the second revised version of (CARE-R)”. She stressed that the curriculum is the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn. It includes learning standards or objectives, units and lessons provided by teachers, assignments and projects presented to students, books, materials, videos, presentations, and readings used in the training course, and evaluation methods.

Dr. Ghaithan Saleh Ali Al-Omari from Taibah University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented, through an analytical study entitled “APE requirements for people with multiple disabilities from the point of view of specialists,” an idea about the APE requirements for people with multiple disabilities from the point of view of specialists (teachers, education coaches). The requirements include adaptations and modifications in the environment and curricula, and the preparation of the physical education teacher. The study relied on a qualitative approach through personal interviews with specialists. The results of the study showed the most important requirements that emerged from the interviews, which is modifying the physical education curricula in a way that suits students with multiple disabilities.

Ms. Dr. Iman Al-Zboun and researcher Nouf Abdul Latif Al-Jayousi, from the Hashemite University in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and through a study entitled “Assessing the motor skills of children with autism spectrum disorder using the Jordanian version of the Motor Proficiency Scale - Second Edition BOT2,”. They discussed evaluating the motor skills of children with autism spectrum disorder in Jordan using the Jordanian version of the Bruininks-Oseretsky scale for motor competence/brief version, second edition BOT-2.

Adam Sherman Jamil Forbes, a professor at the University of Virginia in the United States, shared his mother's APE story at the session. He discussed the need of participating in sports, learning about APE, and developing self-assurance with the APE teacher—all of which are crucial components of the necessary development.

Second session - rehabilitation

Under the rehabilitation topic, Assistant Professor Byogmu Ko from Yongin University in South Korea spoke about the development and current state of sports-related programs for people with disabilities in her country at the second session, which was presided over by Professor Dr. Rebecca Lytle. With the successful staging of the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, the founding of the Korean Paralympic Committee in 2005, and other accomplishments, South Korea has advanced the development of sports for people with disabilities. This laid the groundwork for the equitable growth of sports programs for people with disabilities across the nation.

For his part, Mr. Mustafa Ibrahim Al-Duwaini, physical education teacher at the Sharjah Autism Center in SCHS, discussed the use of the TEACCH program in teaching basic swimming skills to students with autism spectrum disorder. He also discussed the training program for teaching basic swimming skills that he prepared, based on one of the Global Programs, a treatment and education program for children with autism and similar communication disorders (TEACCH).

Assistant Professor Doaa Ahmed Tawfiq from Ain Shams University in the Arab Republic of Egypt spoke about therapeutic horsemanship as an introduction to APE for people with disabilities. Within her study, she discussed the ethnographic approach for people with disabilities by exploring the main components of the therapeutic horsemanship program and identifying the role of trust in activating therapeutic horsemanship to rehabilitate people with disabilities.

The second theme: Health and Safety

Associate Professor Muhammad Ali Fateha, the director of the Intelligent Learning Center and the Al Ain Campus, chaired the first session on the second topic, "Health and Safety." Speaking about the impact of the visual pulse rate application on the heart rates of people with autism spectrum disorder, associate professor Melissa Bittner of California State University, Long Beach, shared information about a tablet computer application that aims to get young people with autism spectrum disorder exercising at a higher intensity.

A study titled "Therapeutic nutrition and its relative contribution to physical health and exercise in children with autism spectrum disorder" was presented by Professor Dr. Mohammed Al-Zeyoudi of Mohammed bin Zayed University for Human Sciences in the United Arab Emirates and Dr. Ayman Zahran of Ajman University. They talked about confirming the impact of therapeutic diet and how it relates to children with autism spectrum disorder's physical well-being and activity.

Professor Mike Webb from Sonoma State University in the United States of America spoke in a working paper entitled “The Interesting Paradox - A Neuroanatomical Perspective on Movement and Emotional Regulation” about the effect of sensory integration on behavioral, emotional, and motor regulation specifically, focusing on the role of the vestibular system and the proprioceptive system.

The third theme: Technology

Within the third theme, “Technology,” and in the session chaired by Professor Rabab Ahmed Abdel Wahab, head of the Assistive Technology Center at SCHS, Professor Matthew John Parker from Enrich Aid in the United States of America spoke about linking capabilities to activities through assistive technologies in physical education and how assistive technologies can help students with disabilities participate in APE.

Assistant Professor Dr. Aseel Al-Suhaibani and Professor Sarah Muhammad Al-Bouzid from King Saud University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented a working paper entitled “Developing APE strategies for students with autism and benefiting from technical solutions: a future vision,”. The importance of the paper is highlighted through the results and conclusions that were reached. It was reached after analyzing the APE strategies used with students with autism spectrum disorder and formulating a vision about possible technical solutions as assistive tools in teaching them physical education.

Muhammad Baqir Muhammad Al-Mousa from Dammam Medical Complex in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spoke about the importance of treadmill for people with severe disabilities. Professor Jawwal Joseph Al-Quba and Miss Elissa Hariq from the Lebanese Cesobel Foundation spoke about experiences, stories and successes at the Cesobel Foundation - Lebanon.

The fourth theme: Inclusive Education

In the fourth topic, “Inclusive Education its session was chaired by Dr. Mukhtar Burshak, advisor on student quality of life at the Sharjah Private Education Authority. Dr. Rania Sobhi Muhammad Abdullah from the Egyptian Helwan University spoke about APE and sustainable development through a group of important topics related to APE and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

Associate Professor Dr. Omar Khalil Attiyat from the Federal Agency for Early Education in the United Arab Emirates presented a study entitled “Evaluating APE services provided to students with autism spectrum disorder in early childhood from the perspective of parents.”

Assistant Professor Dr. Iman Zerrougui from the French University of Boatibia also presented the model of the educational sports integration portfolio in its relationship to economic development as a sustainable strategy to enhance the independence of students with disabilities in France.

In turn, Dr. Maha Ezzat Jado from King Abdulaziz University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented a study on the role of the APE teacher within teams working with people with disabilities “cooperative consultations.”


The second day of the conference witnessed the introduction of two workshops. The first entitled “Modifying Object Control Skills for People with Severe Disabilities,”. It was presented by Professor Marcy Pope. The second was entitled “Promoting Inclusion in Physical Education - Strategies for Success,”. It was presented by Professor Samantha Stewart from the United States of America. Over the two days of the conference, physical education teachers at SCHS presented an interactive workshop on APE tools.

Speech of the Conference President

At the end of the conference, Her Excellency Mona Abdul Karim Al Yafei, Director General of SCHS, President of the International Scientific Conference “Theory and Practice in APE,” delivered a speech in which she, on behalf of Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela bint Muhammad Al Qasimi, President of SCHS, expressed her sincere thanks to every individual who contributed as a speaker, or with a study, or with a working paper, or attended the conference sessions and workshops. She highly appreciated the influential role of each one of them in the success of the conference and being organized in this honorable manner.

She also thanked the conference team, especially the physical education teachers at SCHS, who harnessed their experience and knowledge to provide modified physical tools that meet, and even exceed, expectations. Through practical experience in front of everyone, it has been observed how these tools work to integrate people with disabilities, and bring joy to their souls, which increase their self-confidence.

Al Yafei congratulated California State University, Chico, and the Sharjah Education Academy, SCHS's scientific partners in arranging the conference, in her speech. A special thank you was extended to the Sharjah Government Media Office for their productive collaboration with SCHS, which began with the preliminary arrangements before the conference began and continued through its successful conclusion.

The conference president congratulated the physical education teacher at Al-Wafa School for Capacity Development in SCHS, Hazem Ahmed because he obtained a doctorate degree in physical education a few days ago. His thesis was titled “The impact of the recreational program on developing sensory-motor perception for severe and multiple disabilities in the United Arab Emirates.”


After that, Professor Mohamed Fawzi, Chairman of the Scientific Committee, presented the conference’s recommendations, the most important of which were:

The SCHS's professional diploma for special education will be expanded to include APE topics. Cadres working in the field of physical education will be trained in APE strategies through workshops and specialized training courses. The family will be encouraged to play a partner role in physical education. Appropriate media representation for APE events for individuals with mental health disorders, autism spectrum disorders, severe and multiple disabilities, and active participation in domestic and international sports events will also be provided.

Providing APE experiences in regular schools to support the comprehensive integration of students with disabilities, growing the local and Gulf market for assistive technologies, and utilizing modern technology to support the field of APE are among the conference's recommendations. Other recommendations include paying attention to Arabizing, codifying, and preparing standards for evaluating motor skills for students with mental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, and multiple disabilities.

Future wishes

A list of future wishes was also presented by the Scientific Committee, including the desire to share Arab, local, and global experiences in the field of adapted physical education (APE) for individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and severe and multiple disabilities; to introduce positive models and success stories; to emphasize the holistic perspective of the individual, linking psychological well-being, to obtain the right to practice adapted activities; to develop in the fields of social and cognitive sciences; to increase the number of APE departments in Arab universities; and to establish postgraduate programs in APE in the United Arab Emirates and other Arab nations.

Adopting an integrated perspective in sports planning that includes modified sports, health aspects, comprehensive integration, assistive technologies, and community awareness; stressing the implementation and activation of policies and legislation that ensure that people with disabilities obtain their rights to sports education; and making use of the advancements in modern technology to develop methods for modifying sports activities and making them available to everyone without exception. In addition to modified sports, demolish obstacles that prevent their practice, guarantee inclusiveness of all sports facilities and facilitate modified sports; pay attention to new ideas and initiatives that center on integration into sports and recreation; carry out additional research on modified sports education in the Emirati and Arab contexts, emphasizing the application of its findings. Among conference’s recommendations are integrating the modified sports curricula and programs into the curricula and programs that are used in formal education, as well as securing the funds required to support the modified sports education techniques within a defined framework that is accepted by institutions and government agencies.