Parental perceptions of barriers to physical activity in children with developmental disabilities living in Trinidad and Tobago

Janet Njelesani, Karen Leckie, Jennifer Drummond, Deb Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parents have a strong influence on their child's engagement in physical activities, especially for children with developmental disabilities, as these children are less likely to initiate physical activity. Knowledge is limited regarding parents' perceptions of this phenomenon in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); yet many rehabilitation providers work with children with developmental disabilities and their parents in these contexts. Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the barriers perceived by parents of children with developmental disabilities to their children's engagement in physical activity. Methods: An occupational perspective was used to explore how parents speak about barriers to their child's engagement in physical activity. Interviews were conducted with nine parents in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Findings: Parent's perceived barriers were categorized into four themes: family priorities, not an option in our environment, need to match the activity to the child's ability, and need for specialized supports. Conclusions: Findings provide opportunities for future rehabilitation and community programming in LMICs. Implications for Rehabilitation • Children living with a developmental disability may engage more in solitary and sedentary pursuits as a result of parents choosing activities that do not present extensive social and physical demands for their child. • Therapists can play an important role in providing knowledge to parents of appropriate physical activity and the benefits of physical activity for children with developmental disabilities in order to promote children's participation. • In environments where there is limited social support for families, therapists need to consider and be particularly supportive of parental priorities and schedules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-295
Number of pages6
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Developmental disability
  • children with disabilities
  • Participation
  • Physical activity
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • parental perceptions
  • developmental disabilities
  • rehabilitation sciences
  • occupational therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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