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December 26, 2020 user1Occupational Therapy0

Clumsiness or more?- Developmental Coordination Disorder 

What is it?

  • According to American Psychological Association, Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in both fine and gross motor coordination which have a significant impact on a child’s activities of daily living or school productivity.
  • Children with DCD exhibit these deficits in the absence of identifiable medical or intellectual or visual impairment, or another motor disability, such as cerebral palsy.
  • It is thought to affect around 5% of school-aged, but despite its high prevalence, it remains one of the less well understood and recognized developmental conditions in both educational and medical settings. The prevalence rate is 5-6%, which is approximately 1 in every 20 children.
  • It is often co-morbid with other childhood disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, speech/language impairment.
  • Frequently described as “clumsy” or “awkward” by their parents and teachers, children with DCD have difficulty mastering simple motor activities, such as tying shoes or going downstairs and are unable to perform age-appropriate academic and self-care tasks.

 

Signs and Symptoms

Parents are the initial evaluators to spot signs and symptoms of DCD in their child before anyone else. When they notice their little one is struggling, having challenges or lacking behind other children in movement skills, such as sitting up or learning to walk. However, sometimes signs and symptoms of DCD are not caught until a child starts school. Teachers may see that the child cannot play at recess or in physical education classes in the same way that other children do. They also may observe that it takes the child longer to complete schoolwork. Children with DCD show a lack of interest in playing with other children.

Children with DCD may have difficulty when they try to:

  • Run, skip, jump, hop on one foot, do jumping jacks, or perform other physical activities.
  • Use hand-held objects such as crayons or scissors.
  • Throw or catch a ball accurately.
  • Follow directions for movements that involve more than one step. (When they make a mistake or can’t do the next step, they will start all over again rather than with the most recent action taken.)
  • Know where their bodies are in space.

DCD at specific ages.

Preschool
Has trouble throwing a ball
Plays too roughly or often bump into other kids by accident
Has difficulty sitting upright or still

Grade K-2
Has trouble holding and using a crayon, a pencil, or scissors
Doesn’t form or space letters correctly
Struggles with going up and downstairs
Frequently bumps into people by accident
Has trouble with self-care, like brushing teeth

Grade 3-7
Takes a long time to write
Has trouble cutting foods
Has difficulty with basic routines like getting dressed
Struggles to line up columns when doing math problems

Role of professionals in the treatment of DCD

Historically, parents have been told not to worry about their child’s clumsiness because the child will outgrow the problem. However, current researchers in the area of DCD report that the children do not outgrow clumsiness and that, without intervention, they will not improve.

A key treatment for DCD is occupational therapy (OT). There are many examples of how occupational therapists can work on challenging motor tasks. They might have kids trace letters on sandpaper to build handwriting skills, for example. Or use a lacing board with different colored laces to practice shoe tying.

Kids with DCD may also work with physical therapists on balance and muscle tone.

Occupational therapy and Physical Therapy assist with helping the child with DCD develop movement strategies that increase coordination, motor planning, balance, strength and body awareness resulting in a decrease in overall clumsiness and increased ability to perform functional activities at home, school and in the community.

Speech and language therapy may also be required to help the child with the oral motor skills required for swallowing, chewing and speech.

References

Harrowell, I., Hollén, L., Lingam, R., & Emond, A. (2018). The impact of developmental coordination disorder on educational achievement in secondary school. Research in developmental disabilities72, 13-22.

Kirby, A., & Sugden, D. A. (2007). Children with developmental coordination disorders. Journal of the royal society of medicine100(4), 182-186.

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/dyspraxia/understanding-developmental-coordination-disorder-dcd


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November 22, 2019 teamOccupational Therapy0

ccupational therapy (OT) treatment focuses on helping people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives. OT can help kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

Some people may think that occupational therapy is only for adults; kids, after all, do not have occupations. But a child’s main job is playing and learning, and occupational therapists can evaluate kids’ skills for playing, school performance, and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in addition to dealing with an someone’s physical well-being, OT practitioners address psychological, social, and environmental factors that can affect functioning in different ways. This approach makes OT a vital part of health care for some kids.

Kids Who Might Need Occupational Therapy

According to the AOTA, kids with these medical problems might benefit from OT:

  • Birth injuries or birth defects
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Traumatic injuries (brain or spinal cord)
  • Learning problems
  • Autism/pervasive developmental disorders
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mental health or behavioral problems
  • Broken bones or other orthopedic injuries
  • Developmental delays
  • Post-surgical conditions
  • Burns
  • Spina bifida
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Severe hand injuries
  • Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and other chronic illnesses

Occupational therapists might:

  • help kids work on fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting skills
  • address hand–eye coordination to improve kids’ play and school skills (hitting a target, batting a ball, copying from a blackboard, etc.)
  • help kids with severe developmental delays learn basic tasks (such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and feeding themselves)
  • help kids with behavioral disorders maintain positive behaviors in all environments (e.g., instead of hitting others or acting out, using positive ways to deal with anger, such as writing about feelings or participating in a physical activity)
  • teach kids with physical disabilities the coordination skills needed to feed themselves, use a computer, or increase the speed and legibility of their handwriting
  • evaluate a child’s need for specialized equipment, such as wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, or communication aids
  • work with kids who have sensory and attention issues to improve focus and social skills

How Physical Therapy and OT Differ

Although both physical and occupational therapy help improve kids’ quality of life, there are differences. Physical therapy (PT) deals with pain, strength, joint range of motion, endurance, and gross motor functioning, whereas OT deals more with fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, cognitive skills, and sensory-processing deficits.

Occupational Therapy Practitioners

There are two professional levels of occupational practice — occupational therapist (OT) and occupational therapist assistant (OTA).

Since 2007, an OT must complete a master’s degree program (previously, only a bachelor’s degree was required). An OTA is only required to complete an associate’s degree program and can carry out treatment plans developed by the occupational therapist but can’t complete evaluations.

All occupational therapy practitioners must complete supervised fieldwork programs and pass a national certification examination. A license to practice is mandatory in most states, as are continuing education classes to maintain that licensure.

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • schools
  • rehabilitation centers
  • mental health facilities
  • private practices
  • children’s clinics
  • nursing homes

Finding Care for Your Child

If you think your child might benefit from occupational therapy, ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist. The school nurse or guidance counselor also might be able to recommend someone based on your child’s academic or social performance.


About Us

Teamwork Therapies has been serving the Bay Area community in Northern California since 2006.The company was founded by a Speech Therapist due to a growing demand for Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy.

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