The lived experience of adolescents with developmental coordination disorder transitioning from primary school to secondary school
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Aim: The aim of the research was to explore the lived experience of transitioning into secondary school by adolescents with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Design: This study used a qualitative methodology with a descriptive phenomenological approach. Participants: Fifteen participants were selected using purposive sampling. All participants had a previous diagnosis of DCD and were in the junior cycle of secondary school. Data Collection: Participants were interviewed about their experiences of transitioning to secondary school using unstructured interviews. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data Analysis: The transcripts were read and re-read in order allow for immersion in the data and the assuming of a psychological perspective. They were transformed into meaning units. Meaning units were transformed into phenomenological and psychologically sensitive expressions. The ‘transformations’ were analysed to ascertain what experiences were typically essential to the concrete experiences reported (‘structures’). These structures were then analysed to find a central structure for the experience. Findings: The meaning of transitioning to secondary school for the participants in this study was that their DCD-related problems were accentuated and they become more aware of having this condition. This was a novel finding which had not emerged in any of the previous studies involving students with Special Educational Needs. Participants had problems with the new motor tasks, topography and with the increased level of self-direction and organisation needed for second level education. They reacted to these challenges in different ways with some finding the situation overwhelming and distressing and some being able to adapt. Those who adapted best knew about their condition before sixth class of primary, had a week of induction and were well accommodated for in the new school setting. Other novel findings included the fact that all of the participants persented with challenges in tasks involving prospective memory.