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Learn to play a game of tag with verbal cues

This is an excerpt from Physical Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders by Michelle Grenier.

Tag, You’re It!

Tag, You’re It! helps students learn how to play the game of tag with the help of visual cues.

Motor Skill Objectives Chasing and fleeing, adjusting to small-organization games.

Age Range Preschool, primary (K-2), intermediate (3-5).

Social Skill Objectives Assuming the role of “tagger” in a game.

Equipment and Materials Needed A tag stick (see appendix 7E for directions for building a tag stick), tagging hand, foam noodle, or thunder stick can supply the extra visual cue to help students with ASD understand the “it” in tag games (see figure 7.20). The idea is to make the tagger visually obvious and to teach the student with ASD what to do as the tagger.


Have students practice tagging in partners. Be very explicit and demonstrate the rules for tag in your gym or on the playground. Include such instructions as, “Where can you tag?” and identify specific body parts that students can tag such as the shoulder, back, or arm. Do not tell them where not to tag. Students with ASD generally have difficulty with negative instructions. Explicitly instruct students in how to tag with the tag stick and demonstrate what you want them to do. Check for understanding by saying, “Show me how to tag.” Help them to get the right touch with the proper amount of force. Once they have the tagging down, have them play partner tag. One partner should be an adult or experienced peer who has the tag stick and models what to do, saying, “Tag, you’re it. Your turn [while handing the student the tag stick]. Come get me.” Gradually increase the size of the group playing tag. Assign student with ASD the role of tagger along with three or four peers who can assist them.

Helpful Hints and Modifications

  • Students with ASD can be made “all-time tagger,” meaning that their job in the game is only to tag.
  • Teach freeze tag, instructing students to stop and freeze when they are touched by the tag stick.
  • Teach students how to reenter the game. Tunnel tag is a good example. Say, “Freeze in a straddle stance until someone crawls between your legs.”
  • Have students use a variety of locomotor patterns in tag games.

Learn more about Physical Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Physical Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Articles and Links

General recommendations and strategies to better communicate
Many students with ASD have trouble understanding spoken language.
Learn 3 of the 5 activity categories that comprise the inclusion spectrum
Open activities are those that require little or no modifications to include all students, modified activities are those that include everyone, and separate activities are purposely planned for individuals or groups.

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Physical Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Offers strategies, insight, and tools to help physical education teachers design a curriculum that includes students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Teachers learn to support students’ abilities and learning interests, develop solutions for appropriate programming, and teach students with ASD the skills they need to learn through natural supports, social learning tools, and engaging activities.
Physical Education for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders eBook

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