Therapeutic Recreation for Individuals with Severe Handicaps: An Analysis of the Relationship Between Choice and Pleasure


  • John Dattilo
  • Lynn A. Barnett


Therapeutic Recreation, Leisure, Severe Handicaps, Choice, Contingency Awareness, Pleasure, Single-subject Research


The focus of this investigation was an analysis of the effect of choice on the behaviors of four school-aged children with severe handicaps. Individual affective responses during participation in a chosen leisure activity (contingent participation) were compared to responses during participation in the same activity without the opportunity for choice (noncontingent participation). An intervention· strategy was designed to train subjects to activate a television program by manipulating an electronic switch. A multiple-baseline, single-subject design was used to incorporate the introduction of three conditions across subjects at different points in time. Magnitude of change across the choice conditions was assessed by measuring mean, level, trend and latency of affect (facial expressions and vocalizations) data. Behavioral observations were used to support the conclusion that there was a difference in expressed affect during participation in a chosen leisure activity from responses during participation ·in the same activity without choice. The role of choice. in defining a leisure experience for severely handicapped individuals was discussed and suggested implications for programming and intervention were presented.



Research Papers