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Development Coordination Disorder (DCD) Singapore

Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a complex neurological condition, which affects a person’s muscle co-ordination and perception.

Signs of Developmental Coordination Disorder

DCD is a diagnosis that its criteria are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 defines DCD as below age expected levels of motor planning, execution and coordination. These children can be clumsy, slow and inaccurate in their movement. This condition interferes with age appropriate activities of daily living and it starts early in life.

Childhood Dyspraxia is a disorder of the coordination of intentional movements; hence it affects compound muscle activities such as balance, dancing, handwriting and ball skills. Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder, which means that it affects the way the parts of the nervous system that co-ordinate these kinds of activities develops in childhood. Due to this, motor milestones, such onset of crawling, walking, or speaking, tend to be delayed.

A person’s perception is usually also affected in terms of their vision, hearing and proprioception, or the awareness of where their limbs are in space. There may be developmental delays in some areas but heightened sensitivities or abilities in others. It is important to note that Dyspraxia exists as a condition on its own but is frequently found together with hyper mobile joints, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD or Autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, a diagnosis at an early age is extremely important.

Types of Dyspraxia

Some health professionals divide dyspraxia into different types, depending on which problems most affect your child.

  • Verbal (oromotor) dyspraxia.
  • Constructional dyspraxia – affected the child’s spatial relationships.
  • Ideational dyspraxia - affects the child’s ability to perform coordinated movements in a specific sequence.
  • Ideomotor dyspraxia - affects organizing single tasks.

Diagnosis:

A clinical psychologist, an educational psychologist, an occupational therapist or a pediatrician can make the diagnosis of dyspraxia. A neurologist or a developmental pediatrician usually are the ones to provide a DCD diagnosis. A speech therapist is the one to diagnose verbal dyspraxia.

When carrying out an assessment, details will be required regarding the child’s developmental history, intellectual ability, and gross and fine motor skills:

  • Gross motor skills – how well the child uses large muscles that coordinate body movement, including walking, throwing, jumping, running, and keeping their balance.
  • Fine motor skills – how well the child can use smaller muscles, for example writing, tying shoelaces, doing up buttons, cutting out shapes with a pair of scissors etc.
  • Motor Planning – how quickly a child is able to learn a new motor task, and how much guidance and time is needed to automate it.

Many children with motor planning challenges have hard time to generalize between similar tasks and they need to re-learn each task as if it is brand new.