Direct-service providers should be involved in planning and implementation of physical activities

By James Luiselli, EdD, ABPP, BCBA-D
May Institute

Children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) often do not exercise enough, play sports, or have access to recreational activities. Because of sedentary lifestyle, people with I/DD are at high risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health complications.

What did you do in your research?
We wanted to understand the attitudes and beliefs of direct-care service providers about the benefits, risks, and impediments to exercise, athletic, and recreational activities for children and youth with I/DD. We designed the survey and analyzed the results from a questionnaire that was completed by direct-service providers at a school for children and youth with I/DD.

What did you find out?
We found out that the vast majority of direct-service providers recognized the benefits from exercise, athletic, and recreational activities. They also identified several prerequisite skills that children and youth with I/DD should have to participate meaningfully. These skills included the ability to respond to verbal/physical prompts and follow simple instruction. As well, the respondents endorsed several barriers to conducting these activities including fear of injury and safety concerns.

What are the take-home messages?
Service providers should expand the number and variety of exercise, athletic, and recreational activities available to children and youth. Also, direct-service providers should be involved in selecting activities and planning implementation strategies.

To learn more about these findings contact
James Luiselli.

Full Journal Article
Luiselli, J.K., Woods, K.E., Keary, P., Parenteau, R.E. (2013). Practitioner attitudes and beliefs about exercise, athletic, and recreational activities for children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities. Epub ahead of print.