Learn more about physical education by joining or volunteering on a sports team at your school. This will give you the opportunity to see firsthand what physical education teachers do in their work. Adaptive physical education specialists work with people with disabilities and impairments, so it's important to know if this specific field is a good fit for your personality, skills, and interests. Get an internship or part-time job at an education center, hospital, assisted living facility, or any other organization that works with people with disabilities. Visit the Web sites of professional associations such as SHAPE America (https://www.shapeamerica.org) and the National Consortium for Physical Education for People with Disabilities (https://www.ncpeid.org) to learn more about what's happening in the field.
Adaptive physical education specialists use the same skills that physical education teachers use. The difference is that the students they specialize in creating physical education programs for have disabilities, such as orthopedic impairments, traumatic brain injury, autism, or intellectual disabilities. Specialists screen and place students in physical education programs according to their age, skills, and functional needs. They create individualized fitness programs to help students build strength in needed areas, improve their motor skills, and energize them and build self-esteem through sports and games.
They support students by giving them positive feedback on their performance and encourage them during challenging exercises and programs. They give students periodic tests to observe their performance. They also keep records of students' attendance and performance, to track their progress and identify areas that may need more work or an adjustment in the program. They prepare lesson plans that follow individualized education plans (IEPs) and are tailored to students' needs and abilities. They also establish rules of conduct, to ensure that the learning environment is safe and effective for students.
Adaptive physical education specialists use database software, IEP software, and student record software in their work. They communicate with other educators, supervisors, and coworkers by telephone, e-mail, and in person, to coordinate on education programs. They also use Web browser software, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel to create programs and documents.