The perceptions of occupational performance priorities for adolescents with learning difficulties
Occupational therapy for adolescents with learning difficulties (LDs) is still a relatively undeveloped area of practice in contrast to paediatric services for younger populations. The purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions of adolescents with learning difficulties and their parents regarding their most important current and future occupational performance priorities (OPPs), current occupational difficulties as well as intervention and supports that have been helpful thus far. A descriptive, explorative, qualitative study design was utilised. Eighteen adolescents aged 13 – 21 years with LD and nine parents were interviewed or included in a focus group. Data was inductively coded and analysed, identifying three main themes. The main needs in terms of OPPs included understanding the adolescent perspective and developmental needs, occupational needs and preparing for the future. Occupational difficulties included developmentally-related difficulties, occupational difficulties and intervention-related difficulties. Current and previous effective support and interventions as reported by the participants entailed support and mentoring, direct interventions and the promotion of self-determination. Recommendations for implementing occupation-based practice for this population are made.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Johannesburg, 2017