Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Brandi Fulwider PhD, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Melinda Delbridge MS, OTR/L, CBIS


Background: According to literature, deficiencies in emotional regulation and emotional awareness skills are more prevalent among adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities. Limited research shows promising support that the use of noninvasive treatments such as exercise, and play can promote emotional well-being among this population. This project aims to better understand the benefits of physical activity, play, and mindfulness-based interventions on emotional regulation skills in adults with developmental disabilities who attend a day-time assistance program.

Method: This 14-week capstone project was conducted at Lauren’s Institute for Education’s Adult Day Treatment (DTA) program. The occupational therapy doctorate (OTD) student developed and implemented an inclusive group-based program that served adults with developmental disabilities. A total of 34 clients who attended the day program participated. The ages of participants ranged from 21 to 64 years old. Throughout the duration of this project approximately 45, 30-minute group sessions were completed. A pre-and-post assessment survey was administered to gather quantitative data on the effectiveness of program in relation to frequency of behaviors.

Results: Using the Wilcoxon signed ranks test, the data analysis revealed that there were significant increases from pre-to-post-test scores on several response questions. Also, the collected data demonstrated a significant difference in the average pre-to-post-test score.

Conclusion: It is important that adults with developmental disabilities receive continuous support relating to their social and emotional needs. The data collected from this project provides further evidence that non-invasive mindfulness-based interventions such as physical activity and play can promote emotional regulation and emotional awareness skills in adults with developmental disabilities and should be considered for future program use.