Thesis submitted for Master of Arts degree in Home Economics & Family Living. Thesis advisers were Lou Fong, Richard Mason and Gene Harryman.


This thesis represents an investigation of the effects of increased access to task completion activities on the behavior of institutionalized retarded clients. The hypothesis was that increased access to task completion leisure activities (non-competitive free time activities requiring the subject to attend to a constructive task during at least five free time periods over the course of the study) would result in reduced frequency of unacceptable social behaviors in a group of institutionalized retarded clients. A hobby kit designed according to the experimental definition of leisure activity was made available to each subject in the experimental group. Target behaviors (social behaviors to be changed) were based on each subject’s social behavior history obtained from medical charts and determined by an interdisciplinary team composed of a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, speech pathologist, residential supervisor, program specialist, recreation specialist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and nurse. The behavior of the subjects was systematically observed and measured by residential staff on target behavior checklists. Data indicated that the unacceptable social behaviors of the 44 mildly and moderately retarded clients in the experimental group increased significantly while the frequency of this type of behavior decreased slightly in the control group. Explanations for this finding are discussed in conjunction with previous theories and findings.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Child Psychology | Education | Educational Methods | Leisure Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Special Education and Teaching