Shir Zentner

shirShir Zentner, an occupational therapist B.O,T (graduated from the University of
Haifa in 2011), a graduate student in occupational therapy. Research and
Teaching Assistant in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University
of Haifa. Experienced in working with children in various settings, including
the development of therapeutic video games for kids at "Timocco",
ALUT (the Israeli society for autistic children) communication kindergarten,
"Mehubarim Center" after school activity classes for children and
youth with social needs, guiding youth groups
and high-school communication classes.

Participation characteristics in leisure activities in adolescents with writing deficiencies and their own perceived quality of life

Background and Rationale
This study deals with participation characteristics in leisure activities and perceived quality of life in adolescents with writing deficiencies and the relationship between these variables. Designed to study the participation characteristics in leisure activities among adolescents with writing deficiencies and the relationship between the participation in leisure activities and their perception of quality of life.
The World Health Organization defines a person's health and functioning mainly according to the participation and involvement of the person in the various states and functions of life. Participation is the result of a person's interaction with his social and physical environment (WHO, 2001). Adolescents possess unique participation characteristics which play an important role in their maturity. Participation in a typical adolescent's areas of occupation defines their health and functioning.
One of the most significant areas of occupation of adolescents is the academic world, which entails many requirements and abilities. One of these requirements is writing. Writing is one of the main activities for an adolescent student in school, and one's ability to write is essential for realizing other skills and for participating in the academic world (Feder & Majnemer, 2007).
Writing deficiency is one of the diagnosed learning disabilities in the world, particularly in adolescents. Learning disabilities are a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning and/or mathematical abilities (NJCLD, 1994). Learning disabilities are the most common disabilities in the educational system (Margalit, 2000). Writing deficiency (dysgraphia) is a specific learning disability associated with impaired handwriting (DSM-V, American Psychological Association, 2013).
According to occupational therapy's primary model of person-environment-occupation (Law, Cooper, Strong, Stewart, Rigby & Letts, 1996), it is clear how a deficiency in one area that is significant to one's functioning can directly affect his functioning in other areas. Therefore, it is possible that writing deficiency could directly affect a young person's participation in other areas of his life, namely leisure activities.
Leisure activities are, by definition, non-binding activities that rise from an inner need and take place at a time that is not dedicated for work, self-care or sleep (Yalon-Haimovich, Sachs, Weintraub, Notte, Mazur et al., 2006). Leisure activities help a person in gaining a sense of personal stability and satisfaction (Smilansky & Feldman, 1993). Childhood and adolescence are characterized by an abundance of leisure time and by participation in a diversified range of leisure activities. Adolescents are the most active group in the slot defined by sociology as leisure, and it is estimated that about 40% of their time is spent in leisure activities (Wiseblay, 2001). An adolescent's self-identity can materialize while participating in a wide range of structured and unstructured leisure activities, whether if he does them on his own or with others (Kleiber, 1999).
Leisure activities are increasingly perceived as an integral component for enhancing one's quality of life, because they enable self-actualization, creativity and empowerment. A healthy balanced lifestyle between work and leisure leads to a higher chance of perceived satisfaction, a higher self-esteem and a higher self-confidence (Hawkins, 1997; Stark & Faulkner, 1996).
Since evidence emphasizes the importance of both leisure and writing in normal academic and social functioning in adolescents, and since it was found that there are social and emotional deficiencies among those diagnosed with learning disabilities, it seems important to examine these factors among those who deal with a specific learning disability, such as dysgraphia. Moreover, the relationships between these components (writing, leisure and quality of life) within this group should be studied. This study strives to examine these statements.
By gathering direct information from adolescents and their parents, different characteristics which refer to these adolescents, their writing abilities, their participation in leisure activities and their perceived quality of life will be studied.
Method and procedure
This study is part of a broader study which includes 120 adolescents and aims to contribute to an established and comprehensive body of knowledge on adolescents dealing with writing deficiency and their participation characteristics in leisure activities.
60 adolescent boys and girls, aged 13-18, will participate in this study. Convenience sampling will be used to form this group, with consideration of age and gender representation.
During this study, we will first use social websites and media to invite adolescents who perceive themselves as having writing deficiency to contact us. Answering individuals will go through a preliminary screening procedure. Of these individuals, we will take the first 30 participants to meet the criteria. The study group will be coupled with a control group matched by age and gender. After selecting the groups, we will send (by post or email) 3 evaluation questionnaires which examine participation and quality of life. These questionnaires will be filled by the adolescents and their parents. The questionnaires will be returned by hand in an evaluation meeting that is part of the broader study.