Grow your own attachment: gardening as a co-occupation to optimize the health and well-being of parents and their children with physical disabilities
Wakasa, Kelsey M.
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Grow Your Own Attachment: Gardening as a Co-Occupation to Optimize the Health and Well-Being of Parents and their Children with Physical Disabilities is a program created by an occupational therapist to address the problem of a disrupted parent-child attachment. It is a theory-guided and evidence-based program specifically designed for implementation at Claremont Medical Therapy Unit (MTU), a subunit of Los Angeles County, California Children’s Services (CCS). The Attachment Theory informs a child’s development, growth, and maturity as a result of a secure or insecure attachment with a parent; while the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) informs the relationship between health behaviors and an individual’s beliefs, values, and perspectives of such (Bretherton, 2014; Rimer et al., 2005). After a thorough literature review, the health and wellness of parents and their children with physical disabilities were further explored; as well as the meaningful time spent between the parent and child, known as co-occupations. Gardening was found to facilitate physical and psychological health-promoting behaviors. It served as a means to foster stress management and coping skills through the engagement and appreciation of occupations (Eriksson et al., 2011; Greenleaf et al., 2014; Joyce & Warren, 2016, Swank & Shin, 2015a). It also improved children’s exposure, education, recognition, and trailing of fruits and vegetables (Hutchinson et al., 2015; Morgan et al., 2010; Parmer et al., 2009; Spears-Lanoix et al., 2015). Grow Your Own Attachment uses gardening as a means to repair the relationship between parents and their children with physical disabilities by addressing: 1) the child’s nutritional health, self-esteem, and self-efficacy through active participation and engagement in the occupation of gardening, 2) the parent’s coping skills and stress management through the restorative and health-promoting occupation of gardening, and 3) the quality of the time spent between the parent and child through shared experiences in the meaningful co-occupation of gardening. The program evaluation is a one-group quasi-experimental fixed effects research design with the use of qualitative and quantitative data (Newcomer, Hatry, & Wholey, 2015). Open-ended survey questions, semi-structured interviews, child’s weight and body mass index, Likert scales, and parent and child reports of time spent during co-occupations will be tracked pre-, during, and one-month, three-months, six-months, and one-year post-intervention. For the specific site, program and dissemination costs are minimal as the budget is embedded into the pre-existing program. The outcomes will be used to reflect upon current service delivery to enhance family-centered care, utilization of resources, and advocacy and promotion of occupational therapy and CCS.