Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is one of the most common disorders affecting school-age children. DCD affects 5-6% of school-age children and results in difficulties coordinating movements. A child with DCD may be wrongly referred to as “clumsy” but in reality, they have difficulty performing complex movement patterns and may have trouble keeping up with their peers in these activities. They may also experience behavioural issues.

4 Criteria to Diagnose

  1. Learning and execution of coordinated motor skills are below the expected level for age, given the opportunity for skill learning.
  2. Motor skill difficulties significantly interfere with activities of daily living and impact academic productivity, prevocational and vocational activities, leisure, and play.
  3. Onset is in the early developmental period.
  4. Motor skill difficulties are not better explained by intellectual delay, visual impairment, or other neurological conditions that affect movement.

Signs and Symptoms

  • General “clumsiness”
  • Taking a longer time to learn movement skills
  • Difficulties with daily activities (brushing teeth, tying shoes, buttoning shirts)
  • Difficulty handwriting
  • Difficulty in physical education classes or sports involving running, throwing, kicking, etc.

Without intervention, children with DCD are more likely to experience social exclusion, academic challenges, and physical inactivity. Symptoms of DCD can persist into adulthood if untreated

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy can provide solutions to the challenges associated with DCD. A physiotherapist can assess your child for DCD and use play-based exercises to help them learn skills such as:

  • Running
  • Skipping
  • Balancing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • … and many other skills that are specific to your child’s goals!