Beth W. DeGrace, Ruth E. Foust, Susan B. Sisson, Karina R. Lora; Benefits of Family Meals for Children With Special Therapeutic and Behavioral Needs. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(3):7003350010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.014969
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Frequency of family meals (FMs) is associated with favorable child outcomes; however, no study to date has examined the relationship between frequency of FMs and outcomes for children with disabilities. Data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health for children with disabilities (N = 4,336) were used. Logistic regression for each dependent variable was completed using frequency of FMs and covariates of age, gender, race, family structure, and poverty level. Each day per week increase in the frequency of FMs increased the likelihood for positive social skills (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.01, 1.19]) and engagement in school (OR = 1.09, 95% CI [1.02, 1.16]). Frequency of FMs was not associated with problematic social behaviors or parental aggravation with child. Our findings suggest that children with disabilities whose families participate in frequent FMs have a greater likelihood of positive social and family health outcomes.
Does the child need or get special therapy, such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy?
Does the child have any kind of emotional, developmental, or behavioral problem for which he or she needs treatment or counseling?
Does the child have a health problem, condition, or disability for which he or she has a written intervention plan called an individualized education program?
More frequent meals, a family occupation, were associated with higher engagement in school for students with disabilities.
Occupational therapy is uniquely situated to investigate the frequency and integrity of family occupations for children with disabilities.
Occupational therapy practitioners have the knowledge and skills to promote occupational performance and engagement in family occupations.
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