A dyspraxic deficit in specific language impairment and developmental coordination disorder? Evidence from hand and arm movements



The extent to which children with either specific language impairment (SLI) or developmental coordination disorder (DCD) could be considered dyspraxic was examined using three tasks involving either familiar, or unfamiliar actions. SLI is diagnosed in children who fail to develop language in the normal fashion for no apparent reason, while the DCD diagnosis is applied to a child who experiences problems with movement in the absence of other difficulties. Seventy-two children aged between 5 and 13 years participated, falling into one of four groups: (1) children with specific language impairment (SLI), (2) children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), (3) age-matched control children, and (4) younger control children. The performance of the clinical groups resembled that of younger normally developing children. Children with SLI, DCD, and the younger controls showed significant difficulty on the task requiring the production of familiar, but not unfamiliar postures. The deficit observed in the SLI group is particularly striking because it was seen both in those with and those without recognized motor difficulties.