The importance of identity and empowerment to teenagers with developmental co-ordination disorder

R.P. Lingam, C. Novak, A. Emond, Jane Coad

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    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: Eleven young people aged 11–16 years with a prior diagnosis of DCD were identified from child health records of two participating NHS trusts. The sample included seven boys and four girls, from different socio-economic backgrounds living in different parts of one large urban area in England. In depth one-to-one semi-structured interviews and subsequent follow-up small group interviews were carried out with the young people. Interviews were enhanced using participatory arts-based techniques. All interviews were recorded verbatim and transcribed. Narrative data were analysed using Lindseth's interpretive phenomenology. 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. 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. Conclusion: The current work highlights the need for services to adopt a 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 improve motor skills.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)309-318
    JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Lingam, R. P., Novak, C., Emond, A. and Coad, J. E. (2013), The importance of identity and empowerment to teenagers with developmental co-ordination disorder. Child: Care, Health and Development. doi: 10.1111/cch.12082 , which has been published in final form at


    • adolescence
    • developmental coordination disorder
    • disability
    • qualitative


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