Recreation Therapy which is, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a process that makes utilisation of recreation, leisure and other interventions of activities that address the needs of people with ailments or disabilities. This is done as a means of addressing psychological as well as physical health, well-being and recovery. According to Robinson (2020), there are emotional benefits of encouraging recreation among young people and children with disabilities which enables children to feel confident about their appearance. Recreation therapy makes use of leisure activities, and the implementation of various activities enables the reduction of depression, anxiety and stress along with recovery of some basic mental as well as physical abilities. Recreation therapy helps in building up confidence among individuals, and with the help of the same, people can effectively socialise. Recreation therapy also uses interventions like art and craft, dance, playing sports and helping out parents.
The purpose of this report is to evaluate the reasons why the appointment of a recreation therapist is beneficial for any community organisation. The report encompasses how a recreation therapist can fit within a community while facing some barriers during recruitment. Some possible solutions to overcome the barriers of hiring a recreation therapist will also be discussed in the report.
A brief History of Autism Ontario
Autism Ontario is a non-profit charitable organisation that was established about 49 years ago to represent thousands of people who belong to the spectrum of Autism throughout Ontario. The program or organisation was started by a group of parents who were seeking to establish support and education for their children. The charity has now grown into an entity called Kerry's Place Autism Services which offers a residential program on a community basis to both adults as well as adolescents who are suffering from Autism in the Central and Southeastern part of the province. The main aim of Autism Ontario is to advocate and support all autistic individuals across the province irrespective of their race, ethnicity, religion, income, sexual identity or nationality ("About Us | Autism Ontario", 2022). This organisation provides a lot of referral and information on Autism and hence is one of the collective voices that represent the community of Autism. It covers seven regions throughout the province.
The legal name of Autism Ontario is Autism Society Ontario. Until 1973, various families were compelled to institutionalise their kids since there were no proper education and treatment programs available. After the incorporation of the organisation, there has been a spurt in the research regarding the treatment along with the causes of Autism, which ultimately led to the development of community-based services and education for the people who were suffering from Autism ("Our History | Autism Ontario", 2022). The organisation also raised funds for the residential program along with educational programs. The provinces served under this charity is Novo Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Current Leisure or Recreation Provided by the Organisation
Autism Ontario committedly connects with the entire community that is very diverse and is strictly against any kind of hatred that prevails in the community. The recent activities and events which have occurred have reflected that there is some need of creating an inclusive, safe and creative community (Flint et al., 2017). Autism Ontario provides and conducts workshops that are culturally relevant along with events such as music programs and attending support groups. Sometimes recreational sports such as soccer and volleyball are arranged with the help of partnerships that are meaningful with some of the grassroots organisations who are leaders holding a steadfast position in upholding the conditions of the community.
Qualification of the Staff Member
Some of the institutions might ask for a bachelor's degree in Special Education for handling patients with Autism, but most organisations hiring staff look for a candidate with a master's degree (Ferguson et al., 2021). Autism Ontario hires specialists who have obtained a certificate from the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board. Professionally workers must possess experience of 2-3 years working in the same field handling any kind of social work associated with behavioural changes. The organisation looks for employees with a post-graduate degree in Social Work as well ("Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder", 2022). Apart from this, speech, as well as language therapists, are also employed for assistance to individuals who face similar problems.
The Benefit of the Organisation by Hiring a Recreation Therapist
- When a patient indulges in recreation therapy, his or her mood automatically gets enlightened and improved. There are also other improvements brought about which supports the well-being of the patient. When a recreation therapist hired by Autism Ontario can render care of top-notch quality to an autistic patient, and he or she can improve their living, as a stakeholder of the organisation, the patient will support the organisation (Toms, 2019). The patient and the patient party would be absolutely satisfied with the service provided by the company, and this would increase the popularity of the organisation in turn.
- Since recreation therapy is considered to be an integral part of the treatment or recovery of patients with behavioural or mental disorders, having recreation therapists in organisations takes away the workload of the caregivers working in Autism Ontario who can then focus on the other tasks that are a part of the comprehensive treatment plan for the patients of the organisation. The process of acquiring expertise is initiated with the meeting of some criteria in the form of examination, which evaluates whether the concerned person is eligible to perform a certain task or not (Jones, 2018). It is obvious when tasks are allocated to specialists or professionals excelling in one particular genre; it gets executed with greater efficiency. As a result, the work gets executed and completed faster. Productivity increases as the process of treatment and caregiving for the patients suffering from Autism recover faster. Hence, it is always beneficial on the part of the organisation to hire a recreation therapist.
The Benefit of the Population by Hiring a Recreation Therapist
Recreation therapists use different forms of games and recreation as means of treatment and modalities to bring about comfort from illness and disabilities (Genoe et al., 2021). Recreation therapy in the form of drama and art therapy, equine therapy, aquatics or music therapy can benefit the population of Autism in a proficient way. Hence recreation therapists can utilise these elements to bring about improvement in the life of these individuals (Austin et al., 2020). Recreation therapists conduct sessions that are focused upon some of the specific goals, which are aimed at the achievement of a plethora of social, physical as well as emotional goals, thereby enabling the patients with Autism to indulge in recreational activities and inculcate their interests while capitalising on the strengths. Some of the benefits of hiring a recreational therapist by Autism Ontario can be enlisted as follows:
- Communication- Recreational therapists conduct workshops for communicating the need for assistance from these people and providing more insights into their occupation so that the population can trust them (Crane, Hoffman & Reyes, 2017). Therapeutic recreation involves aids of programs in skills which are required for proper communication of the population through playing games, listening to music or singing. In such activities, there will be interaction among the individuals of the autism population with their peers who belong to the same age group, mostly in a fun-filled setting.
- Motor skills- Recreation therapists make target individuals indulge in activities like horse riding, swimming, playing instruments. This may facilitate the inculcation of motor skills among people with Autism, along with coordination and endurance (Carter & Van Andel, 2019). Moreover, through physical activities, a healthy lifestyle can be promoted, which helps in overcoming some of the greatest challenges like limited motor skills. Also, the supply of vitamin D is very crucial for the body is also enhanced by RT.
- Acquiring of skills- Through recreation therapy, therapists can help people suffering from Autism to acquire some social skills along with the ability to uphold sportsman spirit. When there shall be regular participation in various relaxation programs, it will enhance the inculcation of skills which all people attain throughout the journey of a lifetime and are very crucial for the body.
- Growth of self-esteem- Autistic people face social stigma and face communication deficits that interfere with their growth of self-esteem (Copper, Smith & Russell, 2017). It has been found that children or other individuals with Autism are very confident about themselves, and they get a feeling of optimism when they are achieving something through recreational therapy. Thus, a recreational therapist will contribute and help in the growth of self-esteem and thereby happier individuals in the population of autistic individuals.
Barriers Faced while Hiring a Recreation Therapist
Firstly, there is a huge lack of information available about therapeutic recreation, and hence it is almost impossible to convince stakeholders to pay another set of employees in a community organisation such as Autism Ontario. The lack of information leads to the creation of a vague picture about these professionals. They find recreation therapists to be of just playful nature who play with clients by being diversionary and find such a professional to be very unimportant to be hired (MacKinnon, 2022). What recreation therapists actually do is rehearse along with clients about their feelings, actions, movements and attitudes, which might have been dealt with or within themselves or other people when they are leaving the facility. This time of rehearsal or training is problematic often.
Secondly, the preparation required for professional entry as recreation therapy. This problem is very hard to consider. When this profession is adequately needed to be represented, the entering personnel is supposed to have a broad-based knowledge of skills since it is necessary to execute all the functions as they are required (Kemeny et al., 2020). The functions which are required in a therapeutic recreation setting are basically the programming of activities as well as interventions depending on the goals as well as objectives.
Ways to Resolve the Barrier
The issue of programming time considered while hiring recreation therapists can be addressed by in-service training at the local level. This can be done by providing information from the professional bodies by the therapist for doing the best work of profession that is possible. However, a lot of information must be gathered which is appropriate. The appointment of a well-trained professional recreation therapist will form a legacy that is far more effective than the superficial information which is obtained (Kensinger, 2019). At the national level, bridges have to be built between professional bodies that are comparable.
Various community organisations and the government can actively provide education to the autistic community through posters, campaigns, pamphlets and other professional areas. Awareness programs have to be implemented on a continuous basis till the time people get proper knowledge and information on therapeutic recreation at a professional level (Jones et al., 2019). This indicates that recreation therapists must be able to interact freely about their profession with patient parties before delivering intervention measures to them. Recreation therapists must work in groups as much as possible. This would include direct facilitation of groups but not planning of activities which is team-oriented. Increasing the availability of opportunities in the job market, which are quality opportunities in a given area, is another way that challenges the hiring of recreation therapists.
It can be concluded that a community organisation such as Autism Ontario will benefit in a number of ways by hiring a recreation therapist. The benefits will be reflected in the form of comprehensive care to the patients who seek help for recovering from Autism and associated disorders. The organisation will need to hire experts who are efficient and experienced who can render developmental and behavioural transformation through leisure and recreation. The benefits of hiring recreation therapists have been evaluated in a detailed manner so that the organisation can get a clear picture of why they should hire a recreation therapist. It has been understood that recreation therapists are responsible professionals who will take care of the autistic population to give them a better life. If the barriers to hiring such professionals can be overcome through the spreading of awareness, there will be a marked development in the betterment of this community of autistic individuals.
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