Stability and change in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder


Mary E. Chambers, School of Education, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK


Background  Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are a heterogeneous group who have a marked impairment in the performance of functional motor skills. Provision for these children is usually made via a paediatrician through occupational or physiotherapy; though with a prevalence rate of 5%, regular provision is rarely possible because of limited professional resources.

Methods  This study covers a period of nearly 4 years and initially examined a group of 31 children first identified as having DCD at 7–9 years of age. The children were observed and assessed before, during and after a total of 16 weeks of intervention carried out by parents and teachers. This was followed by a period of monitoring of performance for 26 of the children in the motor domain plus other abilities such as educational progress and self-concept. Individual children were tracked using a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches, building up longitudinal whole child profiles.

Results  Following intervention, 14 of the 26 children have shown improvement and stability in all areas and no longer display DCD symptoms. Eight children have profiles which have shown variability, with the children moving in and out of the DCD classification, while the remaining four children have consistently scored poorly in their movement skills and in addition received ongoing support in school for academic subjects.

Conclusions  The study has confirmed that children with DCD show varying profiles over a period of time and that the profiles have distinct characteristics related to events in the child’s life. This approach to examining stability and change in the progressions of children’s difficulties is in keeping with an ecological approach to explaining development with its multilayered influences creating changes.