238 – Participation in community activities for children with complex communication needs

Presentation - ECV2022-238

Participation in community activities for children with complex communication needs

Caitlin Slaney, Charles Sturt University, Australia (cslaney@csu.edu.au)
Judith Crockett, Charles Sturt University, Australia (jcrockett@csu.edu.au)
Catherine Easton, Charles Sturt University, Australia(ceaston@csu.edu.au)

Background: Participating in organised community activities is not only a human right but is vital for children’s sense of belonging, development, social inclusion, and quality of life. For children with disabilities, research indicates a significant reduction in participation and enjoyment compared to their typically developing peers. Children with complex communication needs (CCN) face even greater challenges to community engagement. A broader, more in-depth understanding of their experiences and barriers to participation is required to create inclusive community activity environments for all children.

Aim: This presentation aims to identify the current knowledge base regarding participation in community activities for children with and without disabilities, and specifically children with CCN.

Method: A scoping literature review investigated the participation experiences of children with and without disabilities in community activities. Literature was sourced through academic databases and included peer-reviewed and grey literature. Additional sources were identified from reference lists.

Results: The literature indicates that children with disabilities face many personal, familial, and environmental barriers to participating in community activities. Much of this research explored parents’ perspectives. Seven articles included children with CCN. These suggest that children with CCN express a strong preference and desire to engage in community activities; however, they often do not have the same opportunities as their peers due to their additional communication support needs.

Conclusions: Every child has the right to develop skills, a sense of belonging, and friendships through community activities. With more understanding of the experiences and barriers to participation, community activities can be inclusive communication environments for all.

Implications for children and families: You will hear parents’ perspectives on community participation, including how some parents overcame barriers to facilitate their child’s active participation in community activities.

Implications for practitioners: As part of early childhood intervention, therapy focuses on individuals’ natural environments and everyday activities, so children can fully engage in family and community life. This research will inform your work to build community capacity to increase opportunities for greater social participation for children with CCN in community activities.

Funding: Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship

Keywords: families’ voices, community activities, complex communication needs, participation, children

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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