Affecting 5–6% of children, developmental coordination disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by poor motor coordination and difficulty learning motor skills. Although quantitative studies have suggested that children with developmental coordination disorder experience reduced quality of life, no known qualitative studies have reported what daily life is like from their perspective.
Guided by an inductive realistic approach and using semi-structured, individual interviews, 13 children (8–12 years) were asked to describe what life is like in their own words. Three researchers coded interviews manually to identify relevant content. An experienced qualitative researcher conducted a second, in-depth thematic analysis using NVivo to identify patterns and themes.
Two themes – milestones as millstones and the perils of printing – illuminated participants’ challenges in completing everyday activities at home and at school. The third theme – more than a motor problem – revealed the social and emotional impact of these struggles and from being excluded from play. The fourth theme – coping strategies – described their efforts to be resilient.
Parents, educators, physicians, and therapists working with children with developmental coordination disorder must recognize how their quality of life is affected by the physical and emotional toll of their efforts to participate successfully in daily activities.