The association of abnormal cerebellar function in children with developmental coordination disorder and reading difficulties

Authors

  • Anne O'Hare,

    Corresponding author
    1. Reproductive and Developmental Sciences, Child Life and Health, Community Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 10 Chalmers Crescent, Edinburgh EH9 1TS, UK
    • Consultant Paediatrician and Senior Lecturer, Reproductive and Developmental Sciences, Child Life and Health, Community Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 10 Chalmers Crescent, Edinburgh EH91TS, U.K.
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  • Shabana Khalid

    1. Reproductive and Developmental Sciences, Child Life and Health, Community Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 10 Chalmers Crescent, Edinburgh EH9 1TS, UK
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Abstract

Children with developmental coordination disorder/dyspraxia (DCD) are at high risk of reading and writing delay. The difficulties with motor skills are heterogeneous and many children have features of poor cerebellar function, reflected in problems with posture, balance and fast accurate control of movement. This study confirmed a high level of parental reporting of reading and writing delay in a clinical group of 23 children with DCD, defined on the basis of both clinical examination and standardized testing of motor function. Direct measurement of reading delay, identified still further children in the group. Those children with reading delay had associated findings typical of phonological awareness difficulties. The children also underwent a standardized test of neurological function and although they all had difficulties with cerebellar function, no distinctive pattern emerged for those whose presentation was complicated by delayed reading and writing. Both the children with DCD and 136 typically developing children, completed the pilot parental questionnaire on gross motor skills. The three skills of catching a ball, jumping on a moving playground roundabout and handwriting, distinguished the children with DCD. This study therefore confirms that children with DCD should be assessed for difficulties in phonological awareness. Additionally, children aged between 7 and 12 years are on the whole, highly competent in a range of gross motor skills and further study might determine whether a simple parental questionnaire might detect children who would benefit from further assessment. The study also suggests that all the children with DCD have cerebellar dysfunction and further work with a larger group might determine particular patterns associated with reading delay. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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