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Parent Perspectives of Barriers to Child Participation in Recreational Activities

Stuart J. Schleien, Kimberly D. Miller, Ginger Walton, Scott Pruett

Abstract


Parents who have sons and daughters with disabilities usually have significant influences on their children’s play, community participation, socialization, and overall quality of life. For several decades, parent-professional partnerships have been considered a recommended practice toward effective service provision for children with disabilities (Blue-Banning, Summers, Frankland, Nelson, & Beegle, 2004). Since parents know their children best and have much to share with service providers, it is essential that parents and professionals communicate often and clearly as programs and services are designed and implemented. In the current study, five focus groups were established to learn how parents feel about recreation service delivery systems, to provide a format to have them share their concerns, and inform us about what has been effective regarding their children’s community inclusion. Focus groups offered parents a platform to voice concerns about opportunities for their children with intellectual and related developmental disabilities to successfully participate in recreation and social activities. Parents valued community recreation as an important aspect of their children’s quality of life; however, they were distraught by the ongoing battle for access. Continually being required to provide direct supports to their children because program staff would not, along with negative attitudes of community members, left them fatigued and isolated. Parents had concerns for their children’s safety and well-being due to poorly prepared program staff. Emanating from these focus groups was an understanding that family members and advocacy agencies have much to offer recreation providers in facilitating inclusive programming, but ultimately, recreation providers are responsible for meeting the needs of all children.

Keywords


community recreation; families; family-professional partnerships; focus groups; inclusion; intellectual and developmental disabilities

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