The Impact of a Movement-Based Emotional Self-Regulation Programme on Adolescents with Special Educational Needs During the Transition Period from School to Post-School in Hong Kong
Leung Siu Ling, Angela
The emotional wellbeing of adolescents remains a concern in the Hong Kong community. The prevalence of emotional problems for adolescents with special educational needs (SEN) is higher than their mainstream peers. Adolescents may experience stress and emotional disturbance when going through the transitional change from school to post-school. A movement-based emotional self-regulation (ESR) programme was proposed to improve adolescents’ mental wellbeing by enhancing their emotional self-regulation at transition. This research investigates the impact of a movement-based ESR programme on adolescents (N=51) with mild intellectual disabilities (ID) in Hong Kong during their transition. The programme includes eight one-hour fifteen minutes weekly sessions. The research adopts a mixed methods design. A standardised questionnaire was used to compare the intervention and control cohorts at post intervention and 14 weeks follow-up stage. Focus groups were conducted after the intervention to gather qualitative data. Quantitative results for the intervention cohort revealed that among the five measured variables: ‘emotion symptoms’, ‘conduct problems’, ‘hyperactivity/inattention’, ‘peer relationship problems’ and ‘prosocial behaviours’ only the ‘conduct problems’ was statistically significant in the t-test analysis at 14 weeks follow-up (p < 0.05) but was not statistically significant at the post intervention when compared to the control cohort. The results implied that the difference between the cohorts was due to the impact of the intervention programme. The mean difference of the variables in the 14 weeks follow-up had a bigger decrease of symptoms than the results of the post intervention and the control cohorts. The qualitative findings discovered seven main themes: ‘emotion’, ‘body shape’, ‘facial expression’, ‘speech’, ‘emotional awareness’, and ‘emotional regulation strategies’ by employing content thematic analysis of the verbatim transcription collected from the focus groups. Asking for help from people was found to be the most important emotional regulation strategy. Good practices of this programme indicated that adolescents who participated in the intervention programme not only gained bodily awareness, emotional awareness and emotional regulation strategies but also experienced emotional regulation practices from a holistic perspective. To summarise, this study sheds light on our understanding of the process of emotional regulation in adolescents with SEN from the implementation of a programme based on dance movement therapy/psychotherapy and self-determination theory. The knowledge and experiences gained from this study will facilitate a better design a research project and to pave the way for a structured evaluation and appraisal of movement-based ESR programmes. Some limitations of the study were the small sample size and the limited verbal expression of the participants with SEN. Future studies would be benefit from increasing the sample size and extending the programme to mainstream adolescents prior to transitions. The study has contributed to the fields of social science and education.
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