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‘Nerds’, ‘Space-Cadets’ and those ‘a bit on the odd side’: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of adolescents with a diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Kane-Hamer, P. (2018). ‘Nerds’, ‘Space-Cadets’ and those ‘a bit on the odd side’: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of adolescents with a diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

Introduction: Adolescents with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are known to be at increased risk of psychosocial problems. There has been limited qualitative research into the impact of DCD from an adolescent perspective.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experience of participants with DCD as they negotiate adolescence.
Method: Eleven participants between the age of 11-18 (8F:3M) with a diagnosis of DCD were recruited through the Dyspraxia Foundation UK. Semi-structured interviews were carried out, audio-recorded and transcribed. The data was analysed by means of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
Findings: Three main themes emerged from the data: ‘Sense of Otherness’ ‘Complexity of Response’ ‘Recognising and Coping with Limitations’. Most participants related a sense of ‘otherness’ and had previously experienced social and/or emotional difficulties. However, adolescence emerged as a time where self-concept could be re-assessed, often positively. Feelings regarding DCD were expressed as complex - including relief at diagnosis, shame at limitations, general ambivalence and a need for acceptance and support. Participants felt their difficulties were often unrecognised and misunderstood in comparison to other developmental disorders. Limitations were described regarding coordination, executive functions (EF) and emotional response. Participants employed a diverse range of coping strategies to function academically and socially.
Conclusion: This work has implications for professionals and policymakers regarding the continued lack of recognition and understanding perceived by young people with DCD. It highlights that many participants struggle with EF and emotional regulation, as well as coordination, but feel that this struggle is mostly unseen. Support, when offered, can often be inconsistent. The re-framing of ‘difference’ as ‘individuality’ during mid to late adolescence, indicates an alternative pathway regarding self-concept that is potentially inclusive of DCD. As adults with DCD continue to report lower self-esteem, poorer mental health outcomes and reduced participation, this research indicates that adolescence may present a window of opportunity for interventions to improve resilience and self-esteem in this population. Ongoing active collaboration between adolescents and researchers is essential.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/21075
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