Sense of autonomy and daily and scholastic functioning among children with cerebral palsy

Dina Elad, Sharon Barak, Tamar Silberg, Amichai Brezner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: There is growing evidence that children's sense of autonomy is an important psychological need closely linked with the development of self-esteem and motivation. Among children with physical disabilities, motor or cognitive limitations may negatively affect child's sense of autonomy (CSA) and competency. Purpose: To examine how sense of autonomy among children with cerebral palsy (CP) directly and indirectly relates to their activity of daily living (ADL) and scholastic performance. Methods: Seventy-three children with CP and their mothers participated in this study. Child's ADL skills and scholastic performance were assessed using the Pediatric Evaluation Disability Inventory (PEDI) and the Scholastic Skills Rating Scale (SSRS), respectively. Level of impairment was assessed using the Gross Motor Function Measure-66 (GMFM-66). CSA was established via videotaped mother–child interactions. Regression analyses were conducted to examine factors predicting child's functional level (ADL and scholastic). The overall model was tested for goodness-of-fit and test of mediation. Results: GMFM and CSA significantly predicted child's ADL and scholastic functioning. GMFM explained 15% of the variance for CSA, 84% for PEDI, and 24% for scholastic functioning. CSA positively mediated the association between GMFM and child's ADL skills. GMFM was positively associated with CSA. Conclusion: Motor impairment has a substantial impact on child's level of functioning. However, child's functioning is a complex construct that is also affected by her or his sense of autonomy. Therefore, sense of autonomy can serve as a potential point of intervention to improve functioning among children with CP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Children
  • Function
  • Scholastic function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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