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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder?

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skill disorder that is believed to affect 5 to 6 percent of school-age children. Children who suffer from DCD have a delay in the development of motor skills or may have a hard time coordinating movements. As a result, such children are unable to perform common, everyday tasks. For example, they may have trouble tying their shoes, going down the stairs or are unable to engage in everyday school activities.

It is important to note however, that children who have been diagnosed with DCD do have normal or above average intellectual abilities. The difficulties that they may encounter in motor coordination can impact their emotional development, academic progress, or social integration.

What are the symptoms of DCD?

Although it may be more common for such disorder to appear later in childhood, it can appear soon after birth. For example, newborns may express having trouble when they are learning how to suck or swallow milk while toddlers may be slow to learn how to sit, crawl, roll over, walk, or talk.

However, as a child enters school, the following symptoms may become more noticeable:

  • Unsteady walk
  • They are constantly dropping objects
  • They are often running into other
  • Children are frequently tripping
  • Have a hard time going down the stairs
  • Children have a hard time kicking, catching, and throwing a ball
  • Have a hard time staying still
  • Have a hard time conducting self-care activities such as tying their shoes, handling a spoon, knives, or forks as well as putting on clothes
  • Children tend to have a hard time performing school activities such as coloring, using, scissors, or writing
  • Child may show lack of interest or avoid particular activities
  • May express low frustration tolerance

What causes DCD?

Although the exact known cause is not yet known, researchers believe that such disorder may be due to a delay in brain development. Additionally, DCD can often occur with other disorders such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or any disorder that may cause an intellectual disability.

How is DCD treated?

  • Long-term Program of Education
    • Physical education can help an individual develop coordination, balance, and improve the communication between an individuals body and their brain
  • Physical Therapy
    • Swimming and bicycling can offer better opportunities to build motor skills than team sports
    • Exercising daily is essential for an individual who had DCD
  • Occupational Therapy
    • Helps an individual master their daily activities
  • Social Skills Training

How can I help my child who has DCD?

  • Encourage the child to participate in activities of their interest, but that provide practice in motor activities
  • Introduce the child to new sports activities before they are exposed to them in a group setting
  • Encourage the child to wear clothing that is easy to put on and take off
  • Recognize and reinforce the child’s strengths

How can I help my student who has DCD?

  • Ensure that the child has a proper designated work area
  • Set realistic short-term goals
  • Make sure to give the child enough time to complete the designated fine motor activities (i.e. math, printing, art work, etc.)
  • The earlier you introduce the computers, the better
  • Use paper that matches the child’s handwriting difficulties
  • Consider using a variation of presentation methods
  • Break down physical activities