Developmental Coordination Disorder
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a disorder that affects a child’s ability to learn and perform age appropriate gross and fine motor skills. DCD occurs in approximately 5-6% of children but is more common in males than females. A child with DCD will appear clumsy or awkward when performing simple motor tasks such as dressing, catching and/or handwriting. A diagnosis of DCD can be made in isolation or can be made in association with other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), speech delays or learning difficulties.
What to look for
Below is some handy hints of what to look for if you think your child has DCD:
- Child appears clumsy or uncoordinated
- Demonstrates poor gross motor skills that are not the result of other conditions such as intellectual impairment, visual abnormalities or conditions affecting the central nervous system
- Difficulty learning new skills (particularly compared to peers)
- May have difficulty completing tasks at school in the allocated time frames
What implications does this have for your child?
Children diagnosed with DCD have been found to have decreased levels of participation in Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). This can occur as a consequence of frustration, embarrassment and decreased self confidence associated with not being able to perform the same tasks as their peers. Children with DCD may avoid socialising with children of a similar age particularly if recess and lunch time involves participation in games and using playground equipment. Consequently, children with DCD have been identified as having higher levels of anxiety, depression and childhood obesity.
DCD is not a condition that resolves as your child approaches adolescence and adulthood however early recognition and
intervention can assist in minimising the secondary issues associated with DCD. Referral to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist is beneficial to assist in improving gross motor abilities, encouraging physical activity and enhancing self confidence.
Camden, C., Wilson, B., Kirby, A., Sugden, D.,& Missiuna, C. (2014). Best practice principles for management of children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD): results of a scoping review. Child: Care Health and Development, 41(1), 147-159.
CanChild. (2016). Developmental Coordination Disorder. Retrieved from: https://canchild.ca/en/diagnoses/developmental-coordination-disorder
Polatajko, H. J., Fox, M., & Missiuna, C. (1995). An international consensus on children with developmental coordination disorder. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62(1), 3-6.
Van der Linde, B., van Netten, J., Otten, B., Postema, K., Geuze, R., & Schoemaker, M. (2015). Activities of daily living in children with developmental coordination disorder: Performance, learning, and participation. Physical Therapy, 95(11), 1496-1506.