Neurological Diagnosis and Treatment for Learning Disabilities

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Developmental Coordination Disorder
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Developmental Coordination Disorder

What is developmental coordination disorder?
Developmental coordination disorder is a disorder of motor skills. A person with this disorder has a hard time with things like riding a bike, holding a pencil, and throwing a ball. People with this disorder are often called clumsy. Their movements are slow and awkward.

People with developmental coordination disorder may also have a hard time completing tasks that involve movement of muscle groups in sequence. For example, such a person might be unable to do the following in order: open a closet door, get out a jacket, and put it on.

It is thought that up to 6% of children may have developmental coordination disorder. The symptoms usually go unnoticed until the early years of elementary school. It is usually diagnosed in children who are between 5 and 11 years old.

How does it occur?
The cause of developmental coordination disorder is unknown. Children whose parents, brothers, or sisters have it appear to be more likely to have it. Some researchers feel that the disorder can be caused by changes in brain chemicals or damage to the pathways that link brain cells to certain muscle groups.

What are the symptoms?
Some symptoms may appear in the first 2 years of life. The child may:

  • Have a very hard time sitting up or raising his or her head
  • Be unable to stand without help or have a very hard time standing without help
  • Be unable to crawl or have a very hard time crawling
  • Walk very late or have a very hard time walking

Some symptoms usually appear during the preschool or grade school years. The child may:

  • Have difficulty holding a pencil or drawing
  • Have poor handwriting
  • Have difficulty throwing a ball or riding a bicycle
  • Be clumsy and accident prone
  • Play sports poorly
  • Have difficulty paying attention or remembering things
  • Have a hard time dressing (doing buttons and zippers)


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