Parents Raising Children With Disabilities



• Attributes and Evaluation of Discussion Contributions.

• Professional Communications and Writing Guide.

Consider the kinds of issues faced by parents related to raising a child with disabilities. In your post for this discussion, identify two specific issues, and describe how play therapy might work in relation to these issues. What are some of the parental issues surrounding having a child with disabilities that might make joining together in therapy a positive intervention?

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• Unit 8 Play Therapy for Children With Disabilities


Children with disabilities represent a broad population for clinical professionals. Despite the increasing prevalence of children with disabilities, there remains a limited research and resources for clinicians. Due to the range and diversity of disabilities, clinicians are faced with no one particular theory to work with all children with disabilities.

This unit address interventions with clients who have an educational or physical disability. We will discuss the common therapeutic challenges that children with disabilities confront, and focus on the benefits that play therapy offers for working with children having disabilities.


To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

1. Analyze theory and research for applications of play therapy with children affected by educational and physical disabilities.

2. Propose goal setting for treatment of children affected by educational and physical disabilities.

• Learning Activities

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[u08s1] Unit 8 Study 1



Use the Capella University Library to complete the following:

• Read the chapter entitled “From Novice to Expert: Guiding Children on the Autism Spectrum in Integrated Play Groups.”

ADHD: Following Children into Adulthood

Launch Presentation | Transcript

NBC Archives on Demand

• Click Launch Video to view ADHD: Following Children into Adulthood, an NBC news report first broadcast on August 23, 2005.

Play Therapy for Children with Disabilities

Running time: 7:13 minutes

• Launch Presentation

• Transcript

Play Therapy Resource Portal

Launch Presentation

Child Case Study Backgrounds

Launch Presentation


• Click Launch Presentation to listen to Play Therapy for Children with Disabilities, an interview with Brian Bethel.

• Click Launch Presentation to access the Play Therapy Resource Portal. Additional resources on children dealing with educational and physical disabilities are included in the section entitled Physical Illness and Disabilities.

• Click Launch Presentation to access Child Case Study Backgrounds.

• Play Therapy for Children with Disabilities

• ________________________________________

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• Brian, welcome to Capella’s course 5252 Applications in Play Therapy. As you know this course for counselors and therapists focuses on the ways in which Play Therapy may be used as an intervention in a variety of special situations.

• Brian Bethel:

• I appreciate the opportunities. Thank you!

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• You are welcome! In this unit we have been working on the special difficulties that children with disabilities may experience and how those disabilities might impact the use of Play Therapy as an intervention. What is your experience working with children with disabilities?

• Brian Bethel:

• Well, I have a multitude of experience. I was previously Director of Counseling Services for a Community Mental Health Centre. And based upon my own graduate work in rehabilitation counseling, I began working with not only children, but also adults with disability and with my interest in Play Therapy began to modify and adapt techniques in working with children through a Community Mental Health setting.

• Currently I serve as a counselor for a Child Advocacy Centre and we see an overwhelming number of children with disabilities that are referred due to both physical abuse and sexual abuse, and the current research validates that children with disabilities are up to ten times more vulnerable for physical and sexual abuse than children without disabilities.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• And this is the area focused for your dissertation?

• Brian Bethel:

• Correct. I am currently completing my dissertation in doctoral studies, counselor education, and supervision, and my focus is Play Therapy for children with disabilities and specifically what the Play Therapy experience is like for children with disabilities.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• Thank you. So, what are some of the therapeutic challenges that are common in working with children with disabilities?

• Brian Bethel:

• Well, children with disabilities confront a number of issues that become therapeutic obstacles. Most people would look at mobility and physical functioning, but there is a lot of research that also ties in some of the psychological options.

• Society’s stigma of individuals with disabilities has been shown to be a very profound effect that children are impacted greatly from the stereotypes and misconceptions that children with disabilities have. So, we see the societalness stereotype and bias that children might fall into some of those pitfalls. We also know that some developmental issues with traditional counseling strategies have relied very heavily on a child’s verbal ability or cognitive ability, whereas I think that presents challenges unlike Play Therapy.

• And then lastly, we have a really limited amount of research for counseling children with disabilities. Most of the research that comes from the rehabilitation counseling field focuses on adults and specifically vocational options for adults. Those are the three primary stigmas that we see, but in addition to that children with disabilities have a real poor concept of self-awareness. They become isolated as far as relationships with peers and interaction with society in general and often times display kind of a muted emotional vocabulary, and that can lead to ongoing maladapted behaviors.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• So, Play Therapy is a good intervention with children with disabilities?

• Brian Bethel:

• Based upon my experience, yes.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• Okay. So, why does it work?

• Brian Bethel:

• Well, I think ideally Play Therapy provides a very non-threatening environment for which children are free to explore and address potential issues that they might have. As I previously mentioned, some of the stereotypes and bias really limit children with disabilities and they are viewed as if they are not capable of resolving issues on their own, or they are viewed as some deficit debate, that they have some deficit within them.

• Play Therapy gives them an environment of which they can kind of gain a mastery over some of the stereotypes and bias. In addition, Play Therapy as I mentioned earlier, is not dependent upon a child’s verbal expression, so we see children who have severe language deficits that function very well with Play Therapy. It is also a wonderful adjunct for incorporating parents.

• Some of the research associated with parenting a child with disability points to the fact that there is an enormous amount of stress that parents confront related to a child’s disability, and I think including parents either through providing them with some Play Therapy techniques or even the use of Filial Play Therapy is a wonderful adjunct to counseling.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• And do you have any recommendations for implementing or adapting Play Therapy for children with disabilities?

• Brian Bethel:

• Yes. I think it is vitally important that any condition that is going to be working with children with disabilities have a selection of play materials that not only is that children can use from a physical standpoint, but also play materials that would reflect the child’s natural environment.

• For example, I have a selection of miniatures that are called People with Diverse Abilities and they are miniatures of a child in a wheelchair, a person who have some hearing impairment issues, a person with blindness, a person on crutches and that helps to normalize a child’s own experience.

• I also think simply being aware of those basic tenets of non directive play therapy creating a very free environment for children to choose what they would like to do in a session, is vitally important. If you think about individuals with disabilities, often times they are very dependent upon social services or dependent upon family members, and Play therapy provides them an opportunity, which they can choose and they are in control of what occurs in that session.

• Dr. Hilda Glazer:

• Thank you for that. I think you have given us a really good idea of how this can be implemented with children with disabilities. I appreciate your being with us today.

• ADHD: Following Children into Adulthood

• ________________________________________

• ANN CURRY, co-host:

• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common mental disorders for children, and it can present some very big challenges. But a new study reports the problems don’t end when the kids with ADHD grow up. Psychiatry professor Russell Barkley is the author of the study.

• Professor, good morning.

• Mr. RUSSELL BARKLEY (Co-Authored New Study On Adult ADHD):

• Good morning.


• First of all, let’s talk about what causes it. Seven percent of all children and 4 1/2 percent of adults have this disorder, and you think the cause is genetic?


• Well, there are many causes for ADHD, but all of the known causes at the moment fall in the realm of biology, spe—particularly genetics and brain difficulties. But about 80 percent of this disorder appears to run in families and be highly genetic.


• And you followed a group of young people it–starting from the 1970s who–who were–who had this disorder and you followed them all the way up to today. And you found that the symptoms carry through to adulthood?


• Yes, ma’am, we did. We found in Milwaukee, with my colleague, Dr. Mariellen Fischer, that following these children for a period of about 15 years or more, that they had great difficulties in adulthood in a variety of areas of major life activities such as school and social relationships.


• So looking at the adult symptoms of ADHD, you have–if you have problems managing time, keeping a job, with relationships, managing money, with driving, these are all symptoms of possibly having adult ADHD. And you say these are–are manageable, that these–these problems can be managed. Is that right?


• That’s correct. That all of these major life activities, in which they are showing impairment, are preventable harms if we can get in early with package of treatments that we know will help them and try to sustain that treatment over time.


• Well, you know, let’s talk about those treatments because you actually say that the treatments have to start very early in childhood. And if they don’t, if the treatments don’t start early there can be very dire circumstances, consequences, including that young people who are diagnosed but not treated were more likely to quit school because ADHD causes–makes it difficult for young people to learn?


• Yes, that’s correct. The–these children are very impulsive. They’re very distractible and inattentive. They have significant problems with hyperactivity and restlessness. And at the core of their disorder, there is a major problem with self-regulation, with self-control. And this leads them to have a great deal of difficulty in school where there’s are a lot of demands on restraint and willpower and being able to persist at your work.


• As adults they’re more po–they’re more inclined to be fired from their jobs, and less than half of the savings of young have–less than–have less than half of the savings of other young adults that they would have grown up with. So–so really what we’re really saying here is that there are a number of reasons to get in there and get treatment early. I guess the question for anybody who’s concerned about having a child with ADHD or has been–has it themselves is will the treatment make a difference? And what did you find there?


• Well, what we have found is that if treatment is started early and it is sustained over years of time, these individuals can lead normally relative–excuse me–relatively normal lives. But we also found that if they’re not treated, there are risks in virtually every area of major life activity in which adults carry responsibilities.


• So this is a really–a cautionar–this is a warning call to parents to–to look for these particular symptoms in their children, to make sure their children doesn’t have this disorder. If you’re child has difficulty controlling him or herself, needs constant monitoring, and does not have friends, then these are clear signs that you might want to go in and talk to your doctor to make sure that your child does not have ADHD.

• Doctor–Ru–Professor Russell Barkley, thank you so much for this important information to help our families this morning.


• Thank you.

• Books

• Gil, E. (2010). Working with children to heal interpersonal trauma: The power of play. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. ISBN: 9781606238929.

• Halstead, R. W., Pehrsson, D., & Mullen, J. A. (2011). Counseling children: A core issues approach. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. ISBN: 9781556202834.

• e-Books

Glazer-Waldman, H. R., Zimmerman, J. E., Landreth, G. L., & Norton, D. (1992). Filial therapy: An intervention for parents of children with chronic illness. International Journal of Play Therapy, 1(1), 31–42.


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