Honors Projects


Approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States are diagnosed with one or more developmental disabilities or delays (Boyle et al., 2011). Although the number of therapeutic approaches for children with developmental disabilities has increased, no single treatment or combination of treatments is effective in relieving symptoms for all individuals (Scharoun, Reinders, Bryden & Fletcher, 2014). Therefore, there is a need to continue to explore alternative therapeutic methods. Research over the past twenty years has found dance/movement therapy (DMT) to be an effective form of treatment for children with special needs, specifically in terms of functioning and well-being. However, limited research has examined how DMT can enhance relationships between children with and without special needs. The Friendship Circle Toledo is a program that provides services and support for children with developmental disabilities through partnerships with trained teen volunteers. The members of the Friendship Circle participated in a 30-minute dance program, which included a warm-up, 20-minute mirroring activity, and a cool-down. Following the dance program, the teen volunteers were asked about their likes and dislikes of the program, how they felt their partners responded to it, and what they felt they learned from it. Common themes among the volunteers’ qualitative responses were explored and presented. The majority of participants enjoyed the session, expressed appreciation for specific activities or the session as a whole, and found the session to benefit themselves and/or their buddy. The researcher’s observations and the teen volunteers’ qualitative responses indicated the implementation of dance activities (including mirroring) may be particularly valuable in settings similar to the Friendship Circle.





First Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Tracy Wilson

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2017