• Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skills disorder that affects five to six percent of all school-aged children. DCD occurs when a delay in the development of motor skills, or difficulty coordinating movements, results in a child being unable to perform common, everyday tasks. By definition, children with DCD do not have an identifiable medical or neurological condition that explains their coordination problems.

    Frequently described as "clumsy" or "awkward" by their parents and teachers, children with DCD have difficulty mastering simple motor activities, such as tying shoes or going down stairs, and are unable to perform age-appropriate academic and self-care tasks. Some children may experience difficulties in a variety of areas while others may have problems only with specific activities. Children with DCD usually have normal or above average intellectual abilities. However, their motor coordination difficulties may impact their academic progress, social integration and emotional development.

    DCD is commonly associated with other developmental conditions, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), speech-language delays and emotional and behavioural problems. For more information on related developmental disorders and their co-occurrence with DCD.

    Physiotherapy & DCD

    How can physiotherapy help?

    There is good evidence to support the idea that strengthening children with DCD and practicing their functional gross motor skills is effective in teaching them their age appropriate tasks. Individual spatial or object tracking problems are also addressed and the physiotherapist will teach parents how to break tasks/skills down into smaller components. Sessions and home programs then teach the child through repetition and fun, achievable games how to perform these skills. Strategies, like those used for gross motor tasks are also applicable to everyday activities, teaching and educating parents on how to use these at home is a part of the treatment process too. A great way to engage children is through fun activities that are achievable yet focus on particular skills that they are having difficulty with. In general, it is great to get these children enrolled into activities such as taekwondo and dance classes where it is individual and focuses on body awareness, strength and control.

    Additional helpful resources are available under the DCD section at www.canchild.ca