An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Lived Experiences of Children with Dyspraxia in UK Secondary Schools

PhD Thesis

Edmonds, C. 2021. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Lived Experiences of Children with Dyspraxia in UK Secondary Schools. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsEdmonds, C.
TypePhD Thesis

Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder, DCD), a neurodevelopmental motor disorder, is characterised by difficulties with the acquisition and execution of coordinated movements which are markedly lower than expected (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The prevalence rate is between 5% and 10% of the population (Wright & Sugden, 1996; Lingam et al, 2009 and Meachon, 2017) with 1 in 10 students in the UK being affected (Colley, 2006; HDCD, 2017).

Previous literature in the area has largely been medically based (Esser, 2012) and lacks the voices of children and young people, however more recently this gap in knowledge has begun to be addressed (Lingam, Novak, Emond & Coad, 2014; Payne, Ward, Turner, Taylor, & Bark, 2013; Payne, 2015; Kane & Farrants, 2018; Kane-Hamer, 2018). Whilst there has been a vast array of literature looking at dyslexia, Autism and ADHD in education there remains a significant paucity of literature that focuses on dyspraxia in education and the literature that is available indicates a significant lack of knowledge and understanding (Stordy and Nicholl, 2000; Peters, Henderson & Dookun, 2004; Devonshire, 2017) and is not from the perspective of the child. Therefore this study adopts an interpretivist framework using a qualitative methodology to provide much needed research focusing on the lived experiences of children with dyspraxia in education in the UK.

Eight young people aged between 11 and 18 were interviewed and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore their lived experiences of dyspraxia in education with 5 superordinate themes identified; “I struggle a bit with it, but not really” – Complexity and internal conflict; “I get twitchy when I’m nervous” – Recognition of incongruence & identification of Otherness; “I can’t be helped with my dyspraxia until people understand” – Need for empathy and understanding; “I wanted to be a superhero with the power of invisibility” Identity formation; “I can go at my own speed” – Right kind of help needed.

The findings were then considered and interpreted through a humanistic psychology and Critical Disability Studies (CDS) lens. Concepts of cognitive dissonance; corporeal or embodied experience; psychoemotional disablism; internalised oppression; distributed competence were identified and finally the young people’s experiences were considered in relation to Abraham Maslow's (1943) hierarchy of needs and Carl Rogers (1951) core conditions of worth, suggesting that in education these young people’s experiences negatively affect their psychological development and development of self.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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Publication dates
Online14 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
SubmittedJun 2021
Deposited14 Jul 2021
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Fox, M., Vingerhoets, H., Thorne, L., Howarth, I., Kelly, S., Alrai, S., Hussain, N., Crane, J., Mcgrath, L., Clark, I., Kelly, M., Wilson, J., Edmonds, C., Wagner, K., Gersch, I., Griffin, V., Mundy, E., Curno, T., Weerasinghe, D. and Zlotowitz, S. 2016. Educational Psychology Research and Practice (EPRaP): Volume 2, Issue 2. School of Psychology, University of East London.