Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cherie Graves


Background Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) experience impairments with physical development, learning, language, and behavior (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021b). These impairments lead to impacts with day to day functioning and meaningful occupations such as play, education, social participation, and activities of daily living (ADLs) (CDC, 2021b). Occupational therapy has the skilled knowledge to assist with these challenges from a variety of approaches. Aquatic therapy is one tool shown to be beneficial as the physical properties of water create an environment that can be very supportive to an individual and their needs (Pocius & Riley, 2019).

Purpose There are limited aquatic play-based resources focusing on the pediatric population. In addition, access to therapy pools can be restricted due to the high cost, lack of knowledge, and limited aquatic facilities. Therefore, the purpose of this scholarly project is to create a resource for therapy practitioners to reference in providing fun aquatic therapy services to children with I/DD. The author speculates that the creation of the interprofessional aquatic resource will enhance the performance range of children with disabilities when participating in meaningful occupations on land.

Methods A thorough literature search was conducted finding articles related to the aquatic benefits for children with I/DD. Through examining various research articles, emotional regulation, motor coordination, strength, brain development, and positive effects on the sensory system were a primary theme. The Ecology of Human Performance (Dunn, 2017; Dunn, Brown, McGuigan, 1994) was the theoretical framework used to organize the information and guide development of this resource.

Conclusion The aquatic environment provides multiple therapeutic benefits for children with disabilities. These therapeutic experiences facilitate the opportunity for children to generalize these therapeutic benefits to performing and participating in meaningful occupations occurring on land. This product was created to provide interprofessional practitioners with a play based aquatic resource to be implemented with children with I/DD. The resource also serves to educate caregivers on the therapeutic benefits of aquatic environments for children with disabilities