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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): State of the art and science

Lecture on "Developmental Coordination Disorder" (DCD) by Helene Polatajko

Helene Polatajko lectures on the different aspects of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

girl on bike


Title: Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): State of the art and science

On 14th April, 2015, the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, The Swedish Association of Occuapational Therapists, Child Neuropsychiatry Clinic and the Division of Health and Rehabilitation arranged a lecture by Helene Polatajko, Professor of the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto. Her lecture took place at the multitudinous lecture hall Arvid Carlsson. The talk was entitled ”Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): State of the art and science”.

Helene Polatajko commenced by describing the development of the term DCD and the fact that until 1994, when she was one of the co-organizers of a consensus meeting, there had been various terms for the disability such as clumsy child, DAMP and apraxia. Today there is a broad agreement regarding the term DCD. The characteristics of DCD are awkward, clumsy movements, a history of delayed milestones, more effort and time to learn motor tasks and can affect gross motor skills, fine motor skills or both. DCD has normally an early onset with first diagnosis around age 5. It affects four times more males. The condition is usually chronic. The prevalence is estimated to 1.8-5 % for ages 5-11. Preterm children and/or children with extremely low birth weight are at an increased risk of developing DCD. The main characteristics of the movements are that they are slower, less accurate and take more effort. Children with DCD do not learn by trial and error, or by observing others. They do not spontaneously generalize the motor skills that they have learnt.

Regarding treatment of DCD the contemporary approach is that motor skills are learned, while the traditional point of view was that motor skills develop. The contemporary interventions focus on facilitating motor learning and include direct skills teaching. Helene Polatajko’s team has developed an intervention, CO-OP (Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance), which has shown very promising results. Films during the lecture illustrated the CO-OP approach.

The lecture ended with a question and answer session and the great interest in the topic was reflected in a variety of questions to Professor Polatajko. The lecture was recorded and the film can be found on this page.