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Identity and empowerment: a qualitative study of teenagers with developmental coordination disorder
  1. R P Lingam1,
  2. J E Coad2,
  3. C Novak3,
  4. A Emond1
  1. 1Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, School of Social and Community Base, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Coventry University, Coventry, UK
  3. 3Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK


Aims The aim of the current study was to gain an understanding of the experiences and aspirations of young people living with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) in their own words.

Methods 11 young people aged 11 to 16 years with a prior diagnosis of DCD were identified from child health records of two participating NHS trust. The sample included seven boys and four girls, from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds living in different parts of one large urban area in England. In depth semi-structured interviews and subsequent focus group discussions were carried out with the young people. Interviews were enhanced using participatory arts-based techniques to add depth to specific questions. All interviews were recorded verbatim and transcribed. Narrative data was analyzed using Lindseth's interpretive phenomenology to elicit understanding of lived experiences. The study was approved by local research and ethics committee.

Results The central theme of ‘We're all different’ described how the young person saw themselves and encompassed the formation of identity. Subthemes illustrated the attitude of the young people to their day to day lives, their difficulties and strategies used by the young people to overcome these difficulties in school and at home. As the majority of time was spent in school, the attitude of the school to difference, the presence of bullying, the accepting nature of the class, teachers and peers were vitally important. Areas of life that encouraged a positive sense of identity and worth included being part of a social network that gave the young people a sense of belonging, potentially one that valued differences as well as similarities. The young people felt that this sense of belonging needed to be supported by parents, teachers, therapists and the ethos of the school.

Conclusion The current work highlights the need for services to adopt an empowered model of DCD where the young person talks about what they can do and considers strategies of overcoming their difficulties. This has implications for education and future intervention strategies that focus on fostering psychological resilience and educational coping strategies rather than simply attempting to improving motor skills.

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