Program Development at a Nonprofit Organization for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
Entry Level Capstone
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
There are over six million individuals in the United States alone with developmental, or intellectual disabilities (ID). ID is defined by the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2021) as significantlimitations in both intellectual functioningand in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This type of disability originates before the age of 22. Historically, members of this population have fewer opportunities for engagement than their typically developing peers. This can be for a variety of reasons, including limited funding, the public’s lack of education on ID, and even ableism. Ableism is defined as “discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities” (Eisenmenger, 2019). Lack of opportunity is especially true in the arts, as there are few opportunities for individuals with varying abilities to participate in the performing arts. The arts are widely known to provide individuals with an outlet for expression, creativity, and judgement free learning. In providing arts education for individuals with varying abilities, there is room for growth in many areas of occupation and overall quality of life.
For my capstone project that will be discussed in detail throughout this submission, I helped to create an easily accessible performing arts course for individuals with varying abilities. Included are lessons on music, vocals, choreography, visual art, character development, and more. Using my experience in occupational therapy (OT) schooling and fieldwork rotations, I was able to include strategies for self-regulation, coping, behavior management, stress relief, body awareness, social skills, etc that are proven through research to have a positive impact on social emotional learning (SEL) and quality of life in individuals within this population when employed regularly. This course includes 15 weeks’ worth of videos lessons (See Appendix B) to be watched by the end user with ID, as well as a supplemental workbook for educators or volunteers to use if teaching the class to a group of participants. This workbook is a step-by-step guide (see Appendix A) for instructors, complete with lists of needed materials, warm-ups, activities, reflections, and curtain call to do throughout the 40-minute class time. Additionally, at the top of each lesson is a QR code that can be scanned by instructors or parents in order to be taken to a link with all needed materials for that lesson, including audio tracks, video lessons, printable materials, scores, and sheet music. The course can be taken completely virtually either individually at home or through a class, and is also appropriate for in-person learning as well.
Lastly, I was able to create an evaluation for parents and guardians to fill out prior to and following participation in the 15-week course to measure skills such as communication, self-regulation, and social participation (See Appendix C). Open ended questions were included for further feedback from parents and guardians about the course to address any other improvements noticed or aspects of the content with room for improvement.
Victoria E. You. 2021. Program Development at a Nonprofit Organization for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. Capstone. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, . (4)