Physical and social play of preschool children with and without coordination difficulties: Preliminary findings

Ann Kennedy-Behr*, Sylvia Rodger, Sharon Mickan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: This preliminary study investigated the play skills and frequency of engagement in play of young children with and without motor coordination difficulties. Method: Using a quasi-experimental design with two independent groups, the play of 21 children aged 4-6 years with (n = 11) and without coordination difficulties (n = 10) was assessed using the Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale and the Play Observation Scale, based on 30 minutes of videotape of play at preschool. Motor skills were assessed using the Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire - German and the Movement Assessment Battery for Children - Second Edition. Results: Significant differences were found in developmental play skills between the two groups, specifically in the children's overall play age and in gross and fine motor play, with lower play ages found for children with coordination difficulties. Frequency of engagement and social interaction in play was significantly different: children with coordination difficulties spent more time as onlookers, or in transition, than their typically developing peers. They were more frequently involved in an aggressive incident and had higher frequency of negative affect than the control children during play. Conclusion: Children with coordination difficulties engaged in less mature gross and fine motor play than the control group. Difficulties in social interaction seem to be evident at a younger age than has previously been described. Early identification of these difficulties may provide directions for intervention; however, this needs to be more fully explored with a larger sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


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