To Feel Belonged: The Voices of Children and Youth with Disabilities on the Meaning of Wellbeing
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
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.