Developmental Coordination Disorder

Developmental Coordination Disorder pdf


Developmental Coordination Disorder is a Motor Disorder defined by challenges in motor sequencing and coordination. Children may be diagnosed with a Motor Disorder if their impairment in motor functioning interferes with their day-to-day life and their coordinated motor skills are below the level of skills expected based on their chronological age. Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder may be clumsy and/or have slow and inaccurate handwriting, assembling puzzles, making models, organizing belongings, difficulty using scissors, riding a bike or participating in sports. Impairment in daily living may be impacting their school productivity or their leisure and play. These deficits cannot be associated with a neurological condition that impacts movement or with an intellectual disability. This disorder is generally not diagnosed before age 5 because motor skill acquisition can vary. When children have intellectual disabilities, motor challenges would need to be in excess of those delays for Developmental Coordination Disorder to be diagnosed.


A child could have Developmental Coordination Disorder with predominately gross motor challenges or with predominately fine motor challenges (that could be most obviously a handwriting deficit). According to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), other terms that might be interchanged with Developmental Coordination Disorder include childhood dyspraxia, a term meaning the same thing that parents may hear from a doctor or occupational therapist. Developmental Coordination Disorder may commonly co-occur with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.


To treat Developmental Coordination Disorder, an Occupational Therapist can work with a child on his or her handwriting and on activities of fine motor control. Physical Therapists focus on core strength and gross motor movements.

To address physical clumsiness, parents may wish to enroll their child in swimming, martial arts or gymnastics. Ball sports may be challenging because of poor hand-eye coordination, but swimming increases core strength, and martial arts help with balance and coordination. Both activities are more individualized sports, compared to soccer or basketball. For fine motor skills, parents may find Handwriting Without Tears to be helpful. Additionally, using dictation software and investing in time and programs to help your child keyboard well will certainly help a child compensate for poor handwriting.


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