Original Research

A qualitative study: Barriers and support for participation for children with disabilities

Anne Marie Witchger Hansen, Musonde Siame, Judith van der Veen
African Journal of Disability | Vol 3, No 1 | a112 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v3i1.112 | © 2014 Anne Marie Witchger Hansen, Musonde Siame, Judith van der Veen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 December 2013 | Published: 25 November 2014

About the author(s)

Anne Marie Witchger Hansen, Department of Occupational Therapy, Duquesne University, United States
Musonde Siame, Cheshire Homes Society of Zambia, CBR Programme, Zambia
Judith van der Veen, Inclusive Development, CBM International, South Africa


Background: This qualitative–exploratory study examined the barriers to participation amongst children with disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia, from the mothers’ perspective.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to understand how mothers of children with physical and cognitive disabilities who engaged their children in community-based rehabilitation (CBR) services in Lusaka, Zambia, perceived and described (1) the level of support they received and the barriers they encountered in terms of their child’s meaningful social participation; (2) the use and awareness of these barriers to identify and pursue advocacy strategies; and (3) hopes for their child’s future.

Methods: Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with each mother in her home.Results: Findings revealed both support and barriers to the child’s social participation in relationship to their family, friends and community. Support also came from the CBR programme and mothers’ personal resourcefulness. Mothers identified their child’s school,their immediate environment and financial burdens as barriers to participation as well as their own personal insecurities and fears. Strategies to overcome barriers included internal and external actions. The mothers involved in the study hope their child’s abilities will improve with continued CBR services. Some mothers described a bleak future for their child due to alack of acceptance and access to education.

Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest the significant role the mother of a child with a disability plays in her child’s social participation. Recommendations include enhancing CBR programming for families, especially for mothers, and advocating on behalf of children with disabilities and their families to attract the attention of policy makers.


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Crossref Citations

1. Barriers and facilitators to participation for children and adolescents with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries – A scoping review
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doi: 10.4102/ajod.v10i0.771