Therapeutic recreation specialists use sports, games, arts and crafts, music, dance, drama, sightseeing excursions and non-traditional recreation activities to improve or maintain the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of students who receive special education services. Therapeutic recreation specialists have special training and earned credentials that assist children with disabilities to benefit from education and improve the quality of life, increase independent function, and thus improve their quality of life.
Therapeutic recreation specialists in schools are optimistic and patient and enjoy working with students of all ages who have various disabilities. They work well independently but are also good team players with other health care professionals. Therapeutic recreation specialists have excellent observation skills, are creative in adapting activities for their students, and can persuade a reluctant student to join an activity. They also possess good communication and record keeping skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and National Therapeutic Recreation Society (NTRS), there are thirty thousand therapeutic recreation specialists who currently hold jobs in the United States. Employment is expected to continue to rise through 2007. Persons with advanced degrees are eligible for positions as program directors, supervisors, and college professionals.
Find out if your school system employs a therapeutic recreation specialist. If yes, ask to talk to the specialist about his or her job. Special education professionals in your school can direct you to resources and organizations about this profession or they might have a personal contact with someone who is employed as a therapeutic recreation specialist. High school students interested in this career should take classes in English, science, physical education, art, music, and drama.
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