Participation in occupations is vital for learning and development. Children with disabilities are at risk for decreased participation.
The purpose of this study is to examine peer-reviewed literature about the participation-based experiences of children and youth with disabilities in activities outside of formal preschool and school academics.
A scoping review was conducted to examine research studies published between 1990 and 2012. Studies included participants from 2 to 18 years who had at least one physical or intellectual/cognitive disability.
Forty-nine articles discussing 32 studies and three systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. Perceptions of and influences on participation were important emerging themes about direct impacts on patterns of participation. A child or youth’s level of functioning, activity level, level of enjoyment, and contextual factors were found to influence their level of successful participation.
Occupational therapists can use the findings from this review to consider supports and barriers within interventions to enhance participation in meaningful life situations.