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Abstract

There is little known about what spirituality means for youth with disability or about the potential relevance of youths’ spirituality in pediatric rehabilitation. This study explored perceptions of spirituality for youth with disabilities. Using a qualitative descriptive methodology, we examined the lived experiences of eighteen youth ages 11-20 years with disabilities including cerebral palsy, central nervous system disorder or autism spectrum disorder. In individual interviews, followed by a focus group, youth identified key spiritual themes – the importance of their beliefs, personal sources of comfort and strength, finding purpose in helping others, significance of personal connections, and strengths-based perspectives on disability. This study makes a unique contribution by informing health care professionals about the relevance of youths’ spirituality in service delivery.

Keywords

Spirituality, Religion, Disability, Youth, Adolescent, Quality of Life, Qualitative Descriptive

Author Bio(s)

Patricia Baldwin is an occupational therapist and clinical practice coach who works at Thames Valley Children’s Centre in London, Ontario. She has a Masters of Theological Studies, having completed an independent study of the spirituality of persons with disability. Patricia J. Baldwin, MTS, OT Reg. (Ont.) is the Corresponding Author and can be contacted at Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road East, London Ontario, Canada N6C 5Y6; Telephone: 519-685-8700 ext. 53432; Email: patricia.baldwin@tvcc.on.ca.

Jan Evans worked as a physiotherapist at Thames Valley Children’s Centre in London, Ontario at the time of this study. Since then, she has attained a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and currently works in private practice as a spiritual director. She may be contacted at Jan Evans, MSc (PT), MASF; Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road East, London Ontario, Canada N6C 5Y6; Telephone: 519-680-0194.

At the time of this study, Nicole Etherington worked as a project coordinator at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. She is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Western University whose research focuses on health over the life course. She may be contacted at Department of Sociology, Social Science Centre, Western University, London, ON N6A 5C2; Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 81236; Email: netherin@uwo.ca.

Megan Nichols has a Master of Science in Human Development and Family Relations, with interests in child and adolescent development and parent/child relationships. She works as a project coordinator at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. She may be contacted at Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road East, London Ontario, Canada N6C 5Y6; Telephone: 519-685-8700 ext. 53787; Email: megan.nichols@tvcc.on.ca.

Virginia Wright has a PhD in Health Research Methodology. She is a senior clinician scientist (pediatric physical therapist) at Bloorview Research Institute in Toronto, Ontario. Her primary interests relate to outcome measurement creation/validation and clinical trials in pediatric rehabilitation. She may be contacted at Bloorview Research Institute, Rm. 4W-270, 150 Kilgour Road, Toronto Ontario, Canada M4G 1R8; Telephone: 416-424-3824; Email: vwright@hollandbloorview.ca.

Janette McDougall works as a researcher at Thames Valley Children’s Centre in London, Ontario. She has a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences. Her primary research interest is examining changes in QOL for children and youth with chronic conditions and disabilities, along with related factors. She may be contacted at Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road East, London Ontario, Canada N6C 5Y6; Telephone: 519-685-8700 ext. 53377; Email: janette.mcdougall@tvcc.on.ca.

Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Patricia Baldwin at, Family and Community Services, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, 779 Base Line Rd. East, London, Ontario, Canada, N6C 5Y6 or patricia.baldwin@tvcc.on.ca.

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge that funding for this study was received from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Grant #100985-1. The authors are deeply grateful for the knowledge and wisdom generously shared by the youth in this study.

Publication Date

7-6-2015

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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