Child Indicators Research

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 375–391 | Cite as

To Feel Belonged: The Voices of Children and Youth with Disabilities on the Meaning of Wellbeing

  • K.-R. Foley
  • A. M. Blackmore
  • S. Girdler
  • M. O’Donnell
  • R. Glauert
  • G. Llewellyn
  • H. Leonard
Article

Abstract

The aim of this paper was to describe the meaning of wellbeing for children and youth with disabilities from their perspective. Twenty children and young people with a range of disabilities including, cerebral palsy, autism, Aspergers syndrome, Down syndrome, mild to moderate intellectual disability and vision impairment, participated in five focus groups and one interview. Groups were facilitated by at least two experienced professionals, including one scribe who recorded the discussions within the groups and took field notes on contextual information. Open coding was used to initially name and categorise data. Constant comparison methods were then used to compare codes and categories to advance the conceptual understanding. Six themes of the meaning of wellbeing emerged from the data describing participation, the importance of good friends, family factors, anxiety relating to performance at school, coping strategies/resilience, and personal growth and development. The concept of wellbeing from the child’s perspective was described as feeling supported, included and respected, as well as feeling valued and capable. Ideas raised by children and young people have highlighted gaps within current indicator sets of children’s wellbeing. These include reciprocal respect within relationships, coping strategies, feeling valued and having a positive sense of self. Children and young people can provide valuable input into research, regardless of impairment.

Keywords

Participation Quality of life Disability Focus groups 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Jade Bogdanovs and Louise Ewing for conducting the focus groups and interviews. We gratefully acknowledge the participation of the children in this study, as well as the cooperation and assistance of their parents and the staff at the schools and disability service organizations. We would also like to acknowledge the ARACY Seed-funding Grant for making this project possible.

Declaration of Interests

The authors report no declarations of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • K.-R. Foley
    • 1
    • 5
  • A. M. Blackmore
    • 2
  • S. Girdler
    • 1
    • 5
  • M. O’Donnell
    • 3
  • R. Glauert
    • 3
  • G. Llewellyn
    • 4
  • H. Leonard
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.The Centre for Cerebral PalsyPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health ResearchUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  4. 4.University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health ResearchUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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