Developmental Coordination Disorder

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skills disorder that occurs when motor coordination is below expected levels for a child’s age and intelligence. Difficulty in coordinating movements results in a child being unable to perform common, everyday tasks such as dressing, writing navigating the playground and participating in sports activities with peers. By definition, children with DCD do not have an identifiable medical or neurological condition that explains their coordination issues. DCD is diagnosed in approximately 5-6% of school aged children.

 

We often take for granted how easy it is to perform simple daily tasks without stopping to think about what we are doing. Children with DCD struggle with motor planning (the ability to plan and execute non-habitual tasks) on a regular basis. They are frequently described by parents or teachers as “clumsy” or “awkward” causing poor self-esteem and affecting social and emotional development.  

 

Developmental coordination disorder usually becomes apparent when children fail to meet normal developmental milestones. Some children with DCD demonstrate delays in gross motor skills such as walking, running, jumping and stair negotiation. Others demonstrate delays in fine motor skills such as dressing, writing and tying shoes.

 

Physical therapists play a key role in the treatment of DCD. As experts in normal and abnormal motor control, motor learning and motor development they are able to assess when a child is just demonstrating signs of normal “clumsiness” and when a the coordination issue is more complex.

 

At PTatric Therapy, a thorough evaluation including standardized testing is performed to determine the extent of DCD and asses baseline information on the child’s skills and abilities. The ultimate goal of treatment is to improve self-confidence and to empower children to participate with their peers without the fear of failing. A multi-sensory approach is utilized to foster improvement of motor planning and coordination abilities all while teaching age appropriate gross motor skills.

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