What is Developmental Coordination Disorder? 

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder? 

26 April, 2023

Hi Everyone, welcome to my first blog on our new website!

This blog discusses Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), which may be an appropriate diagnosis for some children with difficulties attaining/performing motor skills.

Today I thought I’d discuss the children who are referred to Therapies For Kids who are described as:

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How is DCD diagnosed?

It is a condition recognised officially by the World Health Organization and diagnosed using a tool known as the DSMV. DCD needs to be officially diagnosed by a medical practitioner. This can be a paediatrician/neurologist/psychologist. To get a diagnosis of DCD, the child has to demonstrate the following:

Does DCD occur alone?

DCD is often more than a motor problem. At least half of all children with DCD have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), and many have learning disabilities. In addition, DCD is much more common in children born preterm and children with autism.


Do children with DCD “outgrow” motor difficulties?

Research shows us that DCD persists throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Children with DCD do learn motor tasks; however, they have difficulty when faced with new age-appropriate skills, even when they’ve mastered younger skills.


Role of therapy for children with DCD

Early therapy intervention has been found to be beneficial for children with DCD.

Occupational therapy and physiotherapy have historically been the therapies of choice. All therapists (such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists) are educated and trained in looking at motor skills and where the child struggles to perform that skill. In addition, in consultation with carers, we at Therapies For Kids will assist you  in determining your child’s ability to cope with the demands and activities of daily life.

Therapy can assist with the following:

Therapy may also help reduce emotional, physical and social issues that are common in children with DCD.

At Therapies For Kids, we know that children with DCD may also have language/oral motor issues and need to see a Speech Pathologist as well; therefore, we may refer you for an assessment by one of our Speech Pathologists.


How do we assess children who present difficulties with motor skills at Therapies For Kids?

On referral to Therapies For Kids, you may choose to see one or more of our therapists to assess where your child is functioning compared to their peers and the impact it is having on their development and performance of skills. Firstly you will be asked questions about your child’s:

Physiotherapists will look primarily at motor activities e.g.:

An Occupational Therapist will look at the following:

A Speech Pathologist will help assess if your child has the following: 

How do you get a diagnosis of DCD for your child?

Once your therapists have gathered information on your child’s motor performance, they will refer you to your GP for a referral to the appropriate medical practitioner.  Your child will then be assessed to make sure there is no underlying neurological cause. Then with the information given by your child’s therapist/ teacher etc, they can advise if DCD is an appropriate diagnosis.


What can we do to help?

In Physiotherapy, your therapist may work on some or all of the following:

In Speech Pathology, your therapist may work on some or all of the following:

In Occupational Therapy, your therapist may work on some or all of the following:


Frequently Asked Questions

These two terms are often used interchangeably when discussing children with motor coordination difficulties. However, DCD is the formal term, and dyspraxia is not. Dyspraxia is used in many different ways, unlike DCD, as there are no formal criteria.

There is no cure for DCD, but with early intervention and therapy, children can learn strategies to compensate for their coordination difficulties. Therapy breaks tasks down so they can learn the steps to acquire motor skills.

By Kristy Allison
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