The Adapted Physical Education (APE) teacher is an educationally trained professional who is able to assess individual students and develop, adapt and implement specialized physical education programs in the motor domain.
The APE teacher is a direct service provider, not a related service provider, because special education is a federally mandated component of special education services. (U.S.C.A. 1402). This means that physical education needs to be provided to the student with a disability as part of the child's special education.
If specially designed instruction, such as adapted physical education (APE), is required in a student's Individual Education Program (IEP), then the services must be provided by a qualified teacher. A certified physical educator is legally qualified to provide adapted physical education for students who require specialized physical education as defined in the IEP.
Areas that may be addressed in the assessment plan to determine the need for adapted physical education and the appropriate level of service, include but are not limited to:
- General physical education functioning, including success and safety.
- Gross motor skills.
- Motor development.
- Health and physical fitness.
- Fine motor skills.
- Sport and recreation skills, including the application of motor skills to various environments.
- Effects of cognitive delays on functioning in physical education.
- Effects of behavioral difficulties on functioning in physical education.
- Effects of emotional disturbance on functioning in physical education.
- Other skills related to physical education curriculum and standards.
Adapted physical education teachers are PE teachers that are trained to evaluate and assess motor competency, physical fitness, play, recreation, leisure, and sports skills. Adapted physical education teachers are then capable of developing and implementing an IEP program based on the findings of their assessment.
Adapted physical education teachers must have knowledge and competencies in the following:
- Developmental teaching methods in physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills, and skills in individual sports and other activities, as well as group sports and games
- Knowledge of motor control for teaching physical education to individuals with disabilities
- Knowledge of developmental sequences and motor characteristics associated with a number of disabilities
- Skills in a number of physical education techniques and procedures for developing individualized education programs in PE
A collaborative approach is recommended for adapted physical educators to maximize the quality of education provided for individuals with a disability. Effective collaboration requires a team of people working toward a common goal while each provides input from their disciplinary perspective. The law requires a multi-disciplinary individualized education program (IEP) team. The IEP team is most effective if members adopt a collaborative approach and demonstrate collaborative characteristics and skills which include: open, two-way communication, solution-oriented problem-solving strategies, mutual respect; and the sharing of ideas and resources. When a student receives two or more services, (e.g., APE and Physical Therapy) collaboration between and among disciplines may result in greater benefit to the student with a disability.