Rites of passage: Understanding participation of children with developmental coordination disorder

  • Mandich A
  • Polatajko H
  • Rodger S
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Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) experience difficulty participating in the typical activities of childhood and are known to have a more sedentary pattern of activities than their peers. Little research has been done to investigate the impact of these deficits on the lives of children with DCD and the importance of their participation in the typical activities of childhood. This qualitative study explored the impact of the disorder and the importance of participation for children with DCD from the perspective of the parent. Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with parents of children with DCD who attended a university clinic specializing in using the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP) approach, a cognitive-based intervention. Findings revealed that incompetence in everyday activities had serious negative effects for the children. Conversely, intervention that was focused on enablement at the activity and participation level had a significant positive impact on the children’s quality of life. Emerging themes highlighted the notion that performance competency played an important role in being accepted by peers and being able “to be part of the group”. As well, parents reported that successful participation built confidence in their children and allowed them to try other new activities. The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health provides a unique framework for analyzing and understanding the impact of the physical disability on the lives of families with children with DCD. Results illustrate how intervention that focuses on enabling children to choose their own functional goals in the area of physical activity has important implications for enabling participation and building the social networks of children with DCD.

Author-supplied keywords

  • developmental coordination disorder
  • intervention
  • qualitative methods

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  • Angela Mandich

  • Helene J Polatajko

  • Sylvia Rodger

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