Identity in Motion: A Case Study on the Dance Experiences of a Dancer with an Intellectual Disability
Harris, Emily B.
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Many individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience significant challenges and are underserved in our society. Although some of these challenges are directly related to their disability, most of the difficulties that people with ID face are caused by negative social attitudes towards ID. The negative consequences of stigmatization towards people with ID create barriers to creating positive sense of self among members of this population. Studies indicate that leisure pursuits, such as recreational dance, can help cultivate well-being and enhance sense of self. This hermeneutic phenomenological case study provides new understanding to the phenomenon where dance, disability, and sense of self intersect. This case study explores the experiences of one individual with an ID who is involved with recreational dance and presents the ways that recreational dance impacts the sense of self of this individual. The results from this research reveal that recreational dance positively contributes to well-being. The experiences of this young dancer were addressed primarily in terms of his social connections, character strengths, and personal growth. In addition, dance has a positive impact on his sense of self as it enhances his self-confidence, provides him with positive feedback from others, and offers a context through which he can overcome barriers and challenge stigmatization. This case study provides insight on leisure-related concepts as well as offers implications to individuals with ID, integrated dance, and the therapeutic recreation profession.