Factors Predicting the Social Participation of Children With and Without Developmental Disabilities
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Although participation in social, recreational, and leisure activities is essential to overall well being, children with developmental disabilities (DD) participate in fewer activities than their typically developing (TD) peers (e.g., Solish, Perry & Minnes, 2010). The purpose of the current study was to explore the factors that predict participation of preschool- and early school-aged children by investigating the contributions of the child, the family, and the environment in which the child and family reside. The theoretical model used in the current study is an adaptation of two conceptual models proposed by King et al. (2003) who investigated the factors predicting participation of individuals with physical disabilities between the ages of 6 and 21 years, and Orsmond, Wyngaarden Krauss, and Mailick Seltzer (2004) who investigated the factors predicting participation for adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These authors proposed that a combination of environmental factors (e.g., supportive relationships), family factors (e.g., absence of financial and time impacts on the family), and individual/child factors (e.g., cognitive skills, communication) would be associated with participation. These models were adapted for use in the current study to include: 1) factors that have been shown empirically to be predictors of involvement for children with physical disabilities and for adolescents/adults with ASD (e.g., child’s functional ability); and 2) additional factors that may be theoretically relevant to the participation of preschool-aged children with DD. The outcome variables included the child’s participation in a variety of activities and parental satisfaction with the child’s sense of belonging. The results demonstrate that preschool- and early school-aged children, and children with and without disabilities, differed from each other on a number of variables (e.g., adaptive behaviour, family stress, etc). In addition, children with ASD and children with other DD participated in fewer social, recreational, and leisure activities than their TD peers, and parents of children with ASD and other DD reported lower satisfaction with their child’s sense of belonging. Adaptive behaviour, social skills, number of services used, family active recreation, and income were significant predictors of the child’s participation in activities. Limitations and theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.