Mysteries and Mazes: Parents' Experiences of Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder
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BACKGROUND: Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) represent 5 to 6% of the school-aged population and are often seen by occupational therapists in the school system. Although a family-centred approach has been identified as best practice in pediatric care, the perspective of parents is often overlooked both in research and in practice. PURPOSE AND METHOD: In this study, a qualitative, phenomenological approach was adopted to explore the insights and experiences of 13 parents of children with DCD. Each parent participated in two in-depth interviews and completed a set of questionnaires. RESULTS: Analysis of the study findings led to three primary themes that captured the experience of parents as they attempted to understand and get help for their child. The theme of unravelling the mystery highlights parents' impressions of their child's difficulties. The second theme of negotiating the maze refers to the many pathways followed by families as they sought to affirm their perceptions and obtain services for their child and the final theme of parenting dilemmas underscores some of the common challenges faced by parents in trying to deal with their child's limitations. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: For occupational therapists, the study findings illustrate the importance of focusing on occupational performance issues for children with DCD, facilitating the understanding of parents, and the need for early intervention.
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