The effect of an intensive, outdoor camp on playfulness and adaptability in children

Deem, Giulia J., author
Lane, Shelly J., advisor
Bundy, Anita C., committee member
Hepburn, Susan, committee member
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Play is the primary occupation of childhood and promotes healthy cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development. Playfulness is the attitude that children bring to play situations. Playfulness can impact a child's play as well as how likely others are to engage with them in play. Adaptability is the ability to functionally adjust to changes in the environment. Both adaptability and playfulness can impact play participation, and both may be improved through play. Children with sensory modulation difficulties and challenging behavior, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may have a harder time engaging in play than their typical peers. These children can show decreased playfulness and adaptability, both of which may be barriers to play. This is unfortunate because children with these challenges may especially benefit from engaging in play and outdoor engagement. The aim of this study was to look at the effect of an outdoor, intensive, five-day camp with occupational therapy supports on the playfulness of children with sensory modulation difficulties and challenging behavior. This study also looked at the relationship between playfulness and adaptability before and after camp. Camp Jabiru is designed and run by occupational therapists, who provide embedded occupational therapy supports to promote participation in a typical summer camp experience. This study used a one group, pre- test and post- test, quasi-experimental design using retrospective data collected before and after camp held April 2019. Participants were 37 overnight campers at Camp Jabiru, 11 females and 26 males, ages 8-12 years. All campers were identified to have sensory modulation difficulties and/or challenging behavior and most had a primary diagnosis of ASD and secondary diagnosis of ADHD. We assessed playfulness using the Test of Playfulness (ToP) on the first and fourth day of camp and assessed adaptability two-three months before and two-three months after camp using the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2). We found a significant increase in playfulness and adaptability following participation in Camp Jabiru, but a negative relationship between these constructs. Results indicate that children with sensory modulation difficulties and challenging behavior, engaging in this camp model with embedded occupational therapy supports, experienced increased playfulness and to some extent increased adaptability. Additional research is needed to further understand the benefits of an intensive, outdoor camp model with embedded occupational therapy supports as well as the relationship between playfulness and adaptability.
2021 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Embargo Expires: 09/03/2023
occupational therapy
sensory modulation
outdoor camp
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