Developmental Coordination Disorder
Developmental coordination disorder, or DCD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that effects around 5-6% of children (Ip et al., 2021). DCD makes it challenging for children to learn and coordinate movements, significantly impacting their ability to engage in many meaningful activities.
The types of movements we use every day are often broken into two categories:
Fine Motor Movements: Fine motor movements include small, precise movements like writing, tying shoes, or manipulating small objects
Gross Motor Movements: Gross motor movements are big, full body movements like walking, running, jumping, skipping, or climbing the stairs.
Children with DCD may have difficulties with fine and/or gross motor activities, making it difficult for them to complete activities during their daily life.
The diagnosis of DCD is typically made by a pediatrician using specific criteria; occupational therapists are not able to diagnose DCD. However, occupational therapists can conduct motor assessments to assist in the diagnosis process, as well as help to identify areas or activities where support may be required. Assessment tools such as the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales and the Movement Assessment Battery for Children – 2nd Edition can be helpful in identifying if a child is having difficulty with motor tasks. Other tools such as the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure may be helpful for determining specific goals the child and their family may have.
Occupational therapists can help children with DCD learn motor tasks necessary for their activities of daily living. Task-specific approaches such as the Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance (CO-OP) or Neuromotor Task Training (NTT) approaches have been shown to be particularly helpful for improve their ability to learn and perform motor tasks. For children with DCD who struggle with handwriting, OTs can also provide specific handwriting supports.
DCD Assessment Information Sheet & Toolkit for Pediatricians
DCD Treatment Information Sheet
DCD Advocacy Information Sheet
References on this Page
Ip, A., Mickelson, E., Zwicker, J., Canadian Paediatric Society Developmental Pediatrics Section. (2021). Assessment, diagnosis, and management of developmental coordination disorder. Pediatric and Child Health, 6, 366-374.
Miller, L., Polatajko, H., Missiuna, C., Mandich, A, Macnab, J. (2001). A pilot trial of a cognitive treatment for children with developmental coordination disorder. Human Movement Science, 20(1-2), 183-210.
Niemeijer, A., Smits-Engelsman, B., & Schoemaker, M. (2007). Neuromotor task training for children with development coordination disorder: A controlled trial. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 49(6), 406-411.