Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Kinesiology (MKin)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Paula C. Fletcher

Advisor Role




Families with children with developmental disabilities (DDs) experience effects on family functioning and will often turn to physical activity (e.g., dance) to mitigate these effects. This research examines the lived experiences of families with children with DDs participating in recreational dance programs to understand the myriad of effects on all participants: children with DDs, families, and dance instructors.


In order to fully understand the lived experiences of participants, phenomenology was used as the theoretical orientation to guide this research. Each case (5 cases, N=19) consisted of a primary parent, a child with a developmental disability, sibling(s) (if applicable), and dance instructor(s). Specifically, background questionnaires were completed, followed by one-on-one semi structured interviews that were transcribed verbatim for data analysis purposes. Observations of children’s dance classes, field notes, member checks, and triangulation were all used to enhance the credibility of this study.


Two themes emerged following data analysis: (1) “At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids” and (2) Adjust, Advocate, and Accept. Dance was highlighted as a beneficial form of PA with a myriad of effects for children with DDs and dance instructors, while participants also recognized the negative and positive effects of having children with DDs.


Overall, this study provides information on the effects of children with DDs, and the benefits of recreational dance participation. This study may act as a form of emotional support for people sharing similar experiences and can be used as a tool to provide adequate emotional and social support both inside the home and at the dance studio.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Friday, September 20, 2024