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Research Article  |   July 2002
The Importance of Leisure in the Lives of Persons With Congenital Physical Disabilities
Author Affiliations
  • Jacqueline Specht, PhD, is Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Huron University College, 1349 Western Road, London, Ontario N6G 1H3, Canada; jspecht@uwo.ca
  • Gillian King, PhD, is Research Program Manager, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Elizabeth Brown, MSW, is Research Associate, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Carey Foris, MClSc, is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Article Information
Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Leisure and Physical Activity
Research Article   |   July 2002
The Importance of Leisure in the Lives of Persons With Congenital Physical Disabilities
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2002, Vol. 56, 436-445. doi:10.5014/ajot.56.4.436
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2002, Vol. 56, 436-445. doi:10.5014/ajot.56.4.436
Abstract

Although occupational therapists emphasize a balance among the three occupational areas of self-care, productivity, and leisure in people’s lives, leisure often is focused on less than the other areas in both the research literature and clinical practice. Very little research has been conducted on the benefits of leisure activities in adults with congenital disabilities. The information contained in this article is a secondary analysis of the interview protocols of nine adults (30–50 years of age) with either cerebral palsy or spina bifida. The primary purpose of the interview was to determine protective processes surrounding turning points in the lives of persons with disabilities. This secondary analysis allowed us to determine the benefits and meaning of leisure for this population. Consistent with literature that focused on either persons without disabilities or persons with acquired disabilities, the participants in the present study reported that involvement in leisure activity provides mental and physical health benefits, enjoyment, opportunity to develop a self-concept and increase self-esteem, and opportunities to build and enhance social relationships. All these benefits enable people to find meaning in life through doing, belonging, and understanding self in the context of their worlds.