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Lifelong Leisure Skills and Lifestyles for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

Stuart J. Schleien, Luanna H. Meyer, Linda A. Heyne, and Bonnie Biel Brandt have written an excellent book that examines how rehabilitation professionals can create educational curriculum that can help individuals with developmental disabilities integrate leisure time activities into their everyday lives. The book is organized into nine chapters each dealing with different methods and strategies which educators can utilize to teach leisure time life skills to individuals with developmental disabilities.

In Chapter One Schleien and his associates give professionals in the field of special education and rehabilitation a general overview of a unique leisure skills educational curriculum developed by parents and teachers of severely handicapped learners called Lifelong Leisure Skills and Lifestyles for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. The first version of the curriculum called Longitudinal Leisure Skills For Severely Handicapped Learners developed as an outcome of the results of a federally funded leisure skills education project conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii in the early 1980s.

The primary focus of this innovative educational curriculum was to train special education teachers and other rehabilitation professionals in techniques and methods of assisting children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities to learn age appropriate leisure skills that would allow them access to participation in community based recreational activities that have the potential of fostering the growth and development of meaningful friendships and other social relationships with peers who do not have disabilities.

In Chapter Two Schleien and his colleagues outline a five step problem solving approach that shows leisure educators and other rehabilitation professionals how to select age appropriate recreational materials, assessment procedures, and develop goals and objectives that will allow them to implement adapted leisure skills instructional programs that will be able to meet the activity preference needs of individuals with disabilities who have different levels of cognitive and verbal functioning.

Chapter Three discusses a number of instructional methods and strategies which leisure educators can use to teach play skills to children with significant cognitive and physical disabilities. Some of the instructional methods which the authors suggest include the use of instructional cues, pre-exercise warm up sessions, and behavioral shaping techniques.

Later in the chapter the authors discuss the importance of the role of incidental teaching situations in supporting positive interpersonal peer relationships between children with disabilities and those without disabilities. The authors also outline a series of guidelines which leisure educators and other rehabilitation professionals should follow to create recreational environments that support positive interaction between children with and without disabilities.

The chapter ends with a description of task analysis assessment methods and procedures which leisure educators can apply to the collection of progress data that will allow them to make informed determinations about whether or not the instructional cues and positive reinforcement techniques used in the program are helping the participant's to increase their play skills.

In Chapter Four Schleien and his colleagues discuss how leisure educators can adapt ten commercially available age appropriate games and other materials to create recreational environments in the community and at home that can be enjoyed by handicapped learners and their families. The authors also give leisure educators a detailed description of a multi-step procedural process that they must follow in order to adapt the implementation of these ten recreational activities to the needs of children with disabilities.

Chapter Five examines how the different members of the rehabilitation team can contribute their unique collaborative talents to the assessment and modification of leisure environments and activities that will facilitate the maximization of successful participation by children with disabilities. The authors outline several special considerations in terms of children's physical mobility, positioning, and physical participation abilities that they claim team members must take into account when they design individualized adapted leisure programs for children with significant physical and cognitive disabilities that severely limit their participation in community recreational activities.

In Chapter Six the authors focus their discussion on methods and procedures which leisure educators can use to teach children with significant disabilities to make self determined responsible choices about their leisure time activity. The researchers argue that teaching children with disabilities to make independent choices about their leisure time activity has positive beneficial effects on their feelings of autonomy and sense of control over elements in their external environment.

Research conducted by (Dyer, Dunlap, & Winterling 1990) investigators found that teaching children with significant disabilities to make choices about their recreational activities tends to increase their interaction with environmental materials that have the potential to facilitate leisure activity, enhances their leisure participation, and reduces problem behaviors (p. 141).

In Chapter Seven the authors introduce the concept of least restrictive environment (LRE) and show how it can be used to assist community recreation service agencies to develop guidelines that will set agenda to make their leisure programs more inclusive of children with significant disabilities.

Chapters Eight and Nine focus on a review of a variety of instructional strategies and inclusionary methods that leisure educators can utilize to build collaborative relationships with parents of children with disabilities so that they work together to develop structured adapted recreational programs that can be implemented across school, home, and community environments. The authors also discuss a number of specific home involvement service strategies and assessment techniques that leisure education professionals can use in the handicapped child's home environment to help parents evaluate the social skill development level and overcome obstacles to leisure participation of children with disabilities who are enrolled in these types of educational programs. One of the most effective programs of this type which the authors discuss in these chapters is a program started in the school system of Minneapolis called the Dowling Friendship Program which uses family focus group sessions as a way of facilitating the development of friendship bonds, communication, and social interaction between families of children with and without disabilities.

Schleien and his colleagues end their book with an epilogue which discusses emerging social trends in today's society that the authors feel will have a positive impact upon the future delivery of leisure services to individuals with developmental disabilities. The authors believe that leisure educators must take a more active advocacy role and work hard with parents and community service agencies to eliminate obstacles to leisure participation and create more inclusive less restrictive community recreational environments that can be enjoyed by all children whether they have a disability or not.

Lifelong Leisure Skills and Lifestyles for Persons with Developmental Disabilities provides rehabilitation professionals with a wealth of useful practical information about how they can work together to provide comprehensive leisure skills instructional services to individuals with developmental disabilities. The book should be included on the reading list of professionals teaching in university based academic training programs that offer students undergraduate and graduate level courses in therapeutic recreation and special education. The book would also make a valuable resource for human services providers who work in community agencies that deliver therapeutic recreation and special education services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Mitchell A. Kaplan Ph.D., C.S.R.S., Senior Research Associate, New York State Consortium for the Study of Disabilities, Office of Academic Affairs, City University of New York.
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Article Details
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Author:Kaplan, Mitchell A.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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