Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) occurs when a delay in the development of motor skills, or difficulty co-ordinating movements, results in a child being unable to perform everyday tasks. A diagnosis can be made by a medical doctor who will ensure:
- That the movement problems are not due to any other known physical, neurological or behavioural disorders
- Whether more than one disorder may be present
The characteristics of children with DCD, however, are usually noticed first by those closest to the child because the motor difficulties interfere with academic achievement or with activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, playground skills, handwriting, gym activities).
DCD is believed to affect 5-6% of children who are school aged and tends to occur more frequently in boys.
DCD can exist on its own or it may be present in a child who also has learning disabilities, speech/language impairments and/or Attention Deficit Disorder.
How to recognise Developmental Coordination Disorder?
Early detection is helpful so that intervention can be provided to prevent the development of later difficulties.
There may be delay in sitting, crawling, walking, or speaking. Children may have difficulty with:
- Hopping, jumping, riding a bike
- Puzzles, cutting, colouring
- Daily living activities e.g. fastening buttons, blowing his/her nose, using playground equipment and feeding
Problems seen in the pre-school years may continue and become more apparent.
The child may appear generally clumsy and disorganised. Their sensory development may be affected, for example avoiding messy play, swings, roundabouts or fidgeting, persistently chewing on clothing or other objects. Children may have difficulty with:
- Handwriting & art projects
- Play skills e.g. riding a bike, rope skipping & ball skills
- Dressing skills
- Attention & concentration
- Following instructions
- Social skills
What does occupational therapy offer?
Following referral to the occupational therapy department a therapist will comprehensively evaluate your child using a range of standardised tests, observational assessments and questionnaires for parents and teachers where appropriate. Results are analysed to gain a full understanding of your child’s strengths and difficulties, then a decision is made on the most appropriate help for your child.
There are a number of different ways an occupational therapist can work with your child:
- Individually in a therapy clinic
- In school or nursery
- In home or community settings
The occupational therapist works together with you, your child and teachers to develop and carry out appropriate therapeutic activities to assist the development of your child’s skills and self esteem.
- Attention & concentration
- Handwriting & school skills, PE
- Dressing & eating
- Play skills & social skills
Who can refer?
- School/hospital doctors
- Allied health professionals
Children from birth to 16 years of age.
Where do I send referrals?
All completed referral forms should be forwarded to:
Head occupational therapist
Lower ground floor
The Royal Free Hospital
Telephone: 0207 830 2535
Once a referral is accepted the child will be placed on our waiting list and the referrer will receive an acknowledgement letter.
9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday