Recreational participation and the development of social competence in preschool aged children with disabilities: A cross-sectional study.


Abstract Purpose: To explore the association between participation and social competence for preschool aged children with and without disabilities. Methods: The sample was drawn from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n = 4983) which included children aged 4-5 years reported to have hearing problems (n = 164), vision problems (n = 146) and other physical disabilities (n = 114). Chi-square, correlation and logistic regression analyses were used to describe the participation and social competence of children with and without these conditions, as well as examine the association between these constructs. Results: Children with disabilities had similar levels of participation but lower social competence than children without these disabilities. Further analyses revealed a small negative correlation between the two variables (ranging from -0.120 to -0.300 for the three groups) and that children who have low participation are more likely to have abnormal levels of social competence than children with higher participation. Conclusions: The association between participation and social competence may not be as strong for this age group as anticipated in the literature, additional factors may be influential. Examination of the social competence scores identified two factors which may assist in explaining the variance in scores: (1) the experience of disability and (2) the quality of interactions.