Original Research

Recognising developmental coordination disorder in Foundation Phase classrooms

Nicola L. Winson, Jean V. Fourie
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a838 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.838 | © 2020 Nicola L. Winson, Jean V. Fourie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2020 | Published: 21 December 2020

About the author(s)

Nicola L. Winson, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jean V. Fourie, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental motor disorder affecting 5% to 6% of children globally. The motor skills deficit associated with DCD is characterised by its impact on academic productivity, activities of daily living and play. Although the Department of Education’s (2014) policy on screening, identification, assessment and support (SIAS) calls for teachers to be the first line of identification of learning barriers, teachers are often unaware of the characteristics of DCD and have difficulty in recognising the condition.

Aim: This study explored the recognisable characteristics of DCD, which Foundation Phase learners may display, to assist teachers in effectively recognising this potential learning barrier.

Setting: Occupational-, speech- and physiotherapists, remedial teachers and educational psychologists working with Foundation Phase learners in Johannesburg, South Africa, participated in the study.

Methods: Within a generic qualitative design, semistructured interviews were conducted. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and the content coded into meaningful units to derive themes relating to the study’s aim.

Results: Developmental coordination disorder has multidomain and cascading characteristics. Learners present with fine and gross motor challenges, difficulties with social interaction, frustration and associated aggression, and task avoidance. Challenges regarding planning, sequencing, organisation, slow task completion and difficulties with academic skills may be observed.

Conclusion: Developmental coordination disorder is recognisable in Foundation Phase classrooms, provided that teachers carefully observe learners’ behaviour. Early recognition of symptoms may lead to accurate diagnosis, increased understanding and the provision of appropriate supportive interventions.


developmental coordination disorder; dyspraxia; Foundation Phase; neurodevelopmental disorder; qualitative research


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Crossref Citations

1. Journeying with developmental coordination disorder: The family experience
Nicola L. O’Kelly, Jean V. Fourie
African Journal of Disability  vol: 12  year: 2023  
doi: 10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1210