Coping with clumsiness in the school playground: Social and physical play in children with coordination impairments

  • Smyth M
  • Anderson H
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The playground activity of 110 children aged between 6 and 10 years was observed for 10 five-minute periods. Fifty-five children were assigned to a developmental coordination disorder (DCD) group and 55 to a control group, on the basis of their scores on the Movement ABC. Children in the DCD group spent more time alone, were onlookers more often, and played formal games in large groups less often if they were boys and informal games in large groups less often if they were girls. Social fantasy play did not differentiate between the two groups but social physical play did, particularly in the older age groups. Play performance in the DCD group was more variable overall with some boys taking an active part in team games while others never took part in them. This study indicates that as social non-physical play decreases with age, some children with impaired coordination may not become involved in social physical play. Children with impaired coordination can become isolated and solitary in the school playground. Various routes to social exclusion for these children are proposed and remain to be explored.

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  • Mary M. Smyth

  • Heather I. Anderson

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