Research Article
Issue Date: November 12, 2019
Published Online: November 13, 2019
Updated: November 15, 2019
Play Experiences of Children With a High Level of Physical Disability
Author Affiliations
  • Naomi Graham, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons), is Lead Therapist and Clinic Manager, Growing Hope, London, England; naomi@growinghope.org.uk
  • Anne Mandy, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons), is Associate Professor, Doctoral College, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, England.
  • Channine Clarke, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons), is Academic Lead, Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, England.
  • Christopher Morriss-Roberts, PhD, MA, BSc(Hons), is Research Fellow, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, England.
Article Information
Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 12, 2019
Play Experiences of Children With a High Level of Physical Disability
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 2019, Vol. 73, 7306205010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2019.032516
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 2019, Vol. 73, 7306205010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2019.032516
Abstract

Importance: This research provides practitioners with an understanding of play from the perspective of children with a high level of physical disability.

Objective: To explore the experience of play for children who have a high level of physical disability as a result of cerebral palsy.

Design: Interpretative phenomenological analysis. Children participated in three interviews each to discuss their experience of play. Visual methods, such as use of video and drawings, enabled a greater depth of discussion.

Setting: Participants’ homes.

Participants: Six children ages 6–11 yr with a high level of physical disability, recruited via snowball sampling and charities working with children with cerebral palsy.

Results: We found that making choices and controlling play were important for the children, that they often experienced play differently than their peers, and that they connected with others in play through humor and communication skills.

Conclusions and Relevance: Occupational therapy practitioners can respond to the findings by understanding the embodied unit, recognizing vista play, enabling expression of each child’s imagined self, supporting negotiation of identity and disability, recognizing participation in play through watching, enabling opportunities for belonging, enabling development of component skills for play, and supporting strategies for connection.

What This Article Adds: This article provides occupational therapy practitioners and other professionals with an understanding of play from the perspective of children who have a high level of physical disability.