Worldwide there are approximately one billion individuals living with a disability; 80 percent reside in developing countries. This International Day for Persons with Disabilities was created to advocate for national public policy and to help integrate these individuals into society in all areas, including fair access to healthcare, technology and equal opportunities. There are many types of disabilities including, developmental, learning and physical that affect children to older adults. Moreover, many disorders, physical trauma and the aging process often result in disability. These individuals often experience feeling trapped within their bodies, frustrated and misunderstood. They may also have difficulty communicating and “fitting in” with the rest of society.
Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is an especially useful modality for persons with disabilities, as this intervention is based on the principle of mind-body connection and capitalizes upon the strengths and successes of each individual. Anyone, of all abilities can participate! As such, this strength-based approach yields a sense of purpose and empowerment for these individuals while maximizing abilities and coping skills. DMT offers emotional support and the opportunity to share feeling states and emotions in a safe, supportive setting. Additionally, movement is a universally understood mode of communication and can be implemented across various cultures.
In honor of this International Day for Persons with Disabilities, let us continue to work towards increasing accessibility and equal opportunities for all, and to help empower, enable and include these individuals within our society!
References and Resources:
- Levy, F.J. (2005). Dance/movement therapy; A healing art (2nd rev ed.). Reston, VA: National Dance Association, an Association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
- Schmais, C. (1985). Healing processes in group dance therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 8(1),17-36.
- Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
- US Federal Government Site for information on disability programs and services nationwide