The Actual and Aspirational Leisure Pursuits of Adults with Mild Learning Disabilities - A Psychological Approach

Author(s): Daly, L.

Department: Psychology Department, UCC

Keywords: Borderline / Mild Intellectual (Learning) Disability, Normalisation, Integration, Leisure, Social Needs, Stigma

Journal: Journal of Psychology (in press)

(31 Jul 2009)
This research investigated the leisure and recreational lives of adults with mild or borderline learning disabilities. The sample was selected from a learning disability service provider within the Cork region. The introduction of the theory and principle of normalisation has seen the focus of care for individuals with learning disabilities being shifted from institutional settings to models of integration and inclusion into the community. The literature on normalisation and community inclusion will be reviewed, both in the International and Irish contexts, along with the literature specific to leisure and recreational participation and engagement.

Qualitative and quantitative methods have been used. Individuals were asked to complete a questionnaire which looked at demographics and individuals’ level of participation in community activities. Focus groups were carried out to discuss and highlight issues which individuals feel facilitate or impede their leisure and recreational participation. Too often those involved in service delivery to this population think they know what is best for this group. There is a lot of research from organisational and service perspectives and thus it was felt that eliciting the perspectives of the individuals themselves would contribute to the knowledge and research base of the views of people with learning disabilities.

Descriptive results are presented for the quantitative data and grounded theory was used to analyse the qualitative data. Three core themes emerged namely, psychological, ecological and environmental. These were found to effect individuals’ ability to engage in meaningful leisure activities in their communities. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to current practice and the body of research on factors which support meaningful leisure participation for adults with mild learning disabilities.

The need for this research emerged from the research completed by Louise Daly and
Seamas Feehan on the needs of individuals within the supported employment project. The project was conducted with individuals in the Brothers of Charity


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