Perceptions of Play and Leisure in Junior School Aged Children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: What are the Implications for Occupational Therapy?
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Hackett, J. (2003) ‘Perceptions of play and leisure in junior school aged children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: what are the implications for occupational therapy?’, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(7), pp. 303–310. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/030802260306600704.
Play is the dominant occupation in childhood and is recognised as having an important role in wellbeing. Past research suggests that children with a disability experience a variety of barriers to engagement in play. Despite this, play is often not assessed as a specific area of occupational performance. This qualitative study aimed to explore the perceptions of play and leisure in junior school aged children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Twelve children between the ages of 7 years and 11 years were interviewed in order to uncover the barriers to engagement in play and leisure and to consider the implications, if any, for occupational therapy. The results showed that all children, regardless of disease activity, reported difficulty in engaging in play and leisure activities. The symptoms of the disease, the treatment regimes and their side-effects, and psychosocial factors were all reported to affect play and leisure experiences. The children also reported that play behaviours were often restricted by parents, friends and school personnel. Fear of damage and unclear communication about the effects of activity also resulted in self-imposed restrictions, which further limited play experiences. Although the children reported a number of coping strategies to deal with these difficulties, they reported more indoor play and engagement in sedentary activities which often gave rise to feelings of being different, sadness and loneliness.