Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) is a term used to describe a delay in the development of, or difficulty coordinating basic motor and fine motor skills in children and adults. DCD often goes unrecognised and can significantly affect performance in everyday tasks and activities. The cause of DCD is unknown, however those with DCD often have difficulty with the way they learn new skills due to the way their brain develops. Those with DCD may have difficulty with planning smooth, coordinated movements because their brain is not able to accurately transmit messages to the body.
DCD affects between 5% and 6% of all school aged children and tends to be more common in boys. DCD may occur alongside other conditions including ADHD, dyslexia or autistic spectrum disorders. There are no formal criteria for a diagnosis of DCD, and it may occur at any stage of development if there is a breakdown in communication between the senses in the body and the brain.
Characteristics of DCD
Children with DCD are often described as being clumsy and have difficulty managing everyday tasks, such as dressing, self feeding, playing sports and handwriting. A few of the other characteristics of DCD include:
- Delays in achieving milestones
- Poor spelling and difficulties with reading
- Difficulties with organisation, concentration and attention
- Poor working memory
- Difficulties with activities which require coordination (e.g, catching a ball, balancing, tying shoe laces, doing up buttons)
Movements such as walking to sitting upright and writing or picking up small items are also difficulties those with DCD may experience. These difficulties can have an effect on function both at school and home, as well as the associated difficulties of emotional and social isolation often caused by the child’s inability to join in all classroom activities.
How can Occupational Therapy help?
- Improved co-ordination
- Improved balance
- Improved hand-eye co-ordination
- Improved core stability
Occupational therapists work with children to support their everyday life skills in order to promote independence and help them to achieve their potential. Occupational therapists are concerned with how children manage everyday activities at home, school and play. An occupational therapist can help a child with DCD to enhance and develop the underlying skills that gross motor skills compose of.
Occupational Therapy Treatment available for DCD
Occupational therapy treatment for a child with DCD will take into account the child’s needs as a whole by carrying out a holistic assessment, including the environmental factors that effect a child’s ability to participate in everyday activities.
A classroom or home observation can be beneficial to assess the child’s neuromotor behaviour. Neuromotor behaviour looks at how a child may initiate active exploratory behaviour. Depending on the difficulties experienced, an occupational therapist will adapt their approach to the treatment.
An occupational therapist may recommend sensory integrative treatment, a perceptual motor or sensorimotor approach or may even use a compensatory skill development approach.
An occupational therapy assessment which highlights the child’s and family’s goals will ultimately guide intervention. The outcomes of intervention may be measured based on the child’s ability to achieve their goals or through standardised testing.
In summary, DCD is a term used to describe a delay in the development of or difficulty co-ordinating motor skills. Occupational therapy is effective in treating children with DCD and helps to improve the associated difficulties.
How to arrange an appointment with one of our Occupational Therapists
If your child has DCD or Dyspraxia, or you think that they might have some of the symptoms, our occupational therapists can help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0161 883 0088 for more information.
To make discuss how Manchester OT can help you please contact us or call 0161 883 0088