Developmental Coordination Disorder: Causes and Symptoms

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

What is developmental coordination disorder?

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a lifetime condition that interferes with learning motor skills and coordination. Despite its name, DCD is not a learning disorder. Kids with DCD have difficulty with the physical tasks and activities they need to perform at school and home.

Children often learn to sit up, talk, stand and walk at expected ages. It’s possible that they’re behind on certain milestones owing to a developmental issue. One such illness is developmental coordination deficit (DCD).

DCD is characterized by a lack of synchronization between your mental intentions and your body’s capacity to carry them out. For instance, you could say to yourself, “I need to tie my shoe.”

However, your brain does not correctly convey shoe-tying instructions to your hands and feet. Your brain understands how to tie shoes, but your hands are incapable of doing it. When you try to sprint, leap, write, button a shirt, and many other actions that most people take for granted, the same thing happens.

People with DCD have a normal intellectual level. Because persons with DCD cannot do simple activities, it is frequently referred to as “clumsy child syndrome,” which may lead others to believe that they are stupid or dumb. Although DCD is classified as a childhood illness, its consequences can last into adulthood.

Read: Motor Disorders

Symptoms of developmental coordination disorder

DCD symptoms might occur as soon as a child is born. It’s possible that newborns will have difficulty learning to suck and swallow milk. Rolling over, sitting, crawling, walking and talking may take a long time for toddlers.

Symptoms of the condition may become more evident when you join the school. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of DCD:

  • An unsteady walk
  • Having trouble going downstairs
  • Dropping objects
  • Running into others
  • Frequent tripping
  • Difficulties with tying shoes, dressing and other self-care tasks
  • Difficulties with schoolwork such as writing, coloring and cutting with scissors

People with DCD might be self-conscious and retreat from sports or social activities as a result of their condition. However, insufficient exercise might result in poor muscle tone and weight gain. Maintaining social engagement and excellent physical health is critical for overcoming DCD’s difficulties.

Read: Global Developmental Delay

Co-occurring disorders with DCD

Most kids with DCD also have one or more learning or thinking differences.  A common co-occurring condition with DCD is depression. ADHD affects approximately half of all children with DCD.

However, DCD can appear to be similar to other issues. For instance, kids with DCD may have difficulty sitting still or standing upright due to balance problems. They may move around a lot to keep their bodies up.

Causes of developmental coordination disorder

Although the causes of DCD are unknown, experts assume it is caused by delayed brain development. There are usually no other medical problems that can explain DCD in people. DCD can coexist with other illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or intellectual impairments in some circumstances. However, these illnesses are unrelated.

Read: Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Developmental coordination disorder diagnoses

DCD is difficult to diagnose since the symptoms might be associated with those of other diseases. For a diagnosis of DCD, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) states four criteria that must be met:

  • The youngster is missing motor milestones.
  • The disease has a substantial impact on everyday activities and/or academic achievement
  • Symptoms appear early in a child’s life
  • Intellectual disability, vision impairment, or brain abnormalities are not superior explanations for difficulties with motor skills

Treatment for developmental coordination disorder

Developmental coordination disorder treatment involves a long-term process of training, occupational therapy, physical therapy and social skills training to help you to cope with the disorder.

Physical education can facilitate the development of coordination, balance and improved brain-body connection. Individual sports, such as swimming or bicycling, may provide more possibilities for motor skill development than team sports. If you have DCD, you must exercise every day to train your body and brain to function together and lower your risk of obesity.

Occupational therapy might assist you in mastering daily tasks. Occupational therapists are well-versed in a variety of strategies for assisting clients with challenging activities. Your occupational therapist can also collaborate with school authorities to find modifications that will help you succeed in school, such as completing tasks on a computer rather than by hand.

Read: Cognitive Disorder

What you can do to help

Keep your patience. It may take your child multiple attempts to learn each skill, so be prepared to spend a lot of time and energy on them.

Create a hobby and activity plan for your child. Make sure they only enroll in activities they can manage and support them if they fail or encounter difficulties.

It is important to support and encourage your child with DCD. It is often the case that they do not have a high sense of self-esteem and do not perform well academically. They will learn better if they gain confidence.

The frustration and humiliation your child experiences when playing sports is causing him or her to avoid sports. But you should encourage physical activity if you want to stay healthy. 

DCD is a medical condition. There is no cure for motor incoordination. A person with this condition needs to live with it and treat it in order to achieve optimal outcomes.

It will take a longer period of time to learn new skills, so it is recommended to take small steps in order to avoid frustration. DCD children can achieve a great deal with patience and professional help.

What’s the outlook?

Unfortunately, symptoms in children with DCD can persist into adulthood. Motor skill training and education can help you live a normal and fulfilled life. Your prognosis is determined by your ability to adapt to DCD and overcome its limits.

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