Developmental coordination disorder (Dyspraxia)

Movement skills are a fundamental aspect of human behaviour, enabling us to perform everyday tasks, to express ourselves and to maintain our health and well-being. However, some children lack the movement skills they need to cope with the everyday demands of home and school. Sometimes referred to as ‘dyspraxia’ or ‘clumsiness’, this condition is more properly called Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

Developmental Coordination Disorder can affect a child’s ability to do a wide range of physical tasks. Children with DCD tend to struggle with balance, posture and coordination; for example, they may find it difficult to stand on one leg, they may have an awkward posture and running style, they may be delayed in developing certain motor skills such as riding a tricycle/bicycle, catching a ball, jumping rope, doing up buttons, and tying shoelaces. They may have difficulty with printing or handwriting.

Children with DCD may also have difficulties with learning, a delayed language development, and problems with speech.

DCD can affect social skills too. Children with DCD may behave immaturely even though they typically have average or above-average intelligence. They may show a lack of interest in, or avoid, particular activities, especially those that require a physical response. They also may demonstrate a low frustration tolerance, decreased self-esteem, and a lack of motivation.

DCD has no cure. Most children with DCD will continue to have difficulties as teenagers and adults but those with mild problems might find things improve as they grow up. Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and other tools and strategies can help. Kids can learn to work around areas of weakness and build on their strengths.

DCD is believed to be fairly common, roughly 5 to 10 percent of children show some signs of DCD. It is three or four times more common in boys than girls and the condition sometimes runs in families.

Scientists suspect DCD may be caused by a problem with the nerve cells that send signals from the brain to muscles. Researchers also believe that children who were born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy), had low birth weights or were exposed to alcohol in the womb may be more likely to have DCD, though it’s not clear why.

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