Mothers supporting play as a choice for children with disabilities within a culturally and linguistically diverse community

Julia J. Sterman, Geraldine A. Naughton, Anita C. Bundy, Elspeth Froude, Michelle A. Villeneuve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Play is a right for children; an essential childhood occupation influenced by their family environment. Despite increasing recognition of unstructured outdoor play benefits, children with disabilities experience limited play opportunities. Aim: To apply a capabilities approach lens to understand outdoor play decision-making by mothers of children with disabilities within a culturally and linguistically diverse community. Materials and methods: Data collection for this case study involved semi-structured interviews with five mothers of primary school-aged children with disabilities and a week-long survey that profiled their children’s outdoor play. Analysis was thematic and involved identifying barriers and opportunities at each ecocultural layer, aggregating strategies families used to address the barriers, and understanding their overall play decision-making. Findings: Mothers considered the child’s interests and abilities, valued play as both a means and ends, planned for play, and facilitated in the moment as required. Multiple factors influenced mothers’ outdoor play decisions. Mothers’ values were child-centred, positively influencing the child’s play opportunities. Conclusion and significance: This study’s capabilities lens could inform professions such as occupational therapy to support families of children with disabilities from culturally diverse communities to advocate for play opportunities across settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (number DP140101792) obtained by AB for the Sydney Playground Project (Levelling the Playing Field: Starting with the School Playground) made possible the PhD scholarship of JS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Capabilities approach
  • agency
  • play
  • playground
  • primary school
  • values

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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