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Engagement in family activities: a quantitative, comparative study of children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities and children with typical development

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Abstract

Background

Participation is known to be of great importance for children's development and emotional well-being as well as for their families. In the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – Children and Youth version participation is defined as a person's ‘involvement in a life situation’. Engagement is closely related to involvement and can be seen as expressions of involvement or degree of involvement within a situation. This study focuses on children's engagement in family activities; one group of families with a child with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) and one group of families with children with typical development (TD) were compared.

Methods

A descriptive study using questionnaires. Analyses were mainly performed by using Mann–Whitney U-test and Spearman's rank correlation test.

Results

Engagement in family activities differed in the two groups of children. The children with PIMD had a lower level of engagement in most family activities even though the activities that engaged the children to a higher or lesser extent were the same in both groups. Child engagement was found to correlate with family characteristics mostly in the children with TD and in the children with PIMD only negative correlations occurred. In the children with PIMD child engagement correlated with cognition in a high number of listed family activities and the children had a low engagement in routines in spite of these being frequently occurring activities.

Conclusions

Level of engagement in family activities in the group of children with PIMD was lower compared with that in the group of children with TD. Families with a child with PIMD spend much time and effort to adapt family living patterns to the child's functioning.

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