Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2016


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Occupational Therapy


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Ann Cook

Committee Member

Jaime Muñoz

Committee Member

Elizabeth DeIuliis


Children with Disabilities, Occupational Therapy, Program Development, Social Participation


Social participation is an important occupation for children that occupational therapists address. The benefits of participation include emotional well-being, life satisfaction, building friendships, psychological benefits and positive effects on overall health and development (Law, Petrenchik, King, & Hurley, 2007). Compared to their typically developing peers, children with disabilities are at an increased risk for decreased participation (Law et al., 2007). An expedited scoping review of the literature revealed key supports and critical barriers that impact the frequency and quality of social participation for children with disabilities. Children with disabilities and their families experiencing these barriers with resultant decreased levels of social participation could potentially lead to social isolation, decreased friendships, and negative psychological outcomes (Law et al., 2007). A synthesis of the most current research informed the development of My Social Toolbox, a pilot program designed to alleviate the social participation disparities between children with and without disabilities. By addressing some of the barriers, as noted in the literature, My Social Toolbox aims to ease the social experience for the parents by providing them with the skills and resources they need to be successful, thereby facilitating increased social participation for their child, as well as enhancing the quality of interactions of their child. Thus, the My Social Toolbox program integrates the evidence supporting the effectiveness of parent-training programs in general and the important role parents play in the therapy process (Kaiser & Hancock, 2003; Kane, Wood, & Barlow, 2007).

This one-month pilot program consisted of weekly parent training sessions and a social event for the parents, their child, and other family members. The participants consisted of four mothers of children with disabilities. This comprehensive program addressed topics including the benefits of social participation, education about local resources, and teaching of strategies for enhanced social interaction skills. Multiple outcome measurement tools were chosen to measure the effectiveness of My Social Toolbox and program goal achievement, including the Participation and Environment Measure for Children and Youth (PEM-CY), the Child Occupational Self-Assessment (COSA), Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS), as well as tools created by the doctoral candidate to measure goal achievement and parent satisfaction with the program. Results of the program indicate parent’s increased knowledge of the importance and benefits of social participation and parents’ interest in programs helping them be able to best support their child socially. Knowledge of the current literature combined with the outcomes of My Social Toolbox can help guide the development of future programs addressing the participation disparities between children with disabilities and children without disabilities.