At a glance
There are a number of ways specialists can help kids with DCD.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy are key treatments for kids with DCD.
There are no medications to treat DCD.
Whether you suspect that your child has developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or you know for sure, it’s important to get treatment as early as possible. But what does that involve?
There is no medication or “cure” for DCD (sometimes known as dyspraxia). There are therapies that can help improve motor skills, however. Different types of specialists may work with kids who have DCD.
Occupational therapists focus on coordination. Physical therapists may work on muscle strength. And other professionals may treat challenges that often co-occur with DCD. Learn more about treatment for kids with DCD.
Therapies for DCD
Occupational therapy is the primary treatment for DCD. It helps kids gain motor skills and learn to do basic tasks that are needed for school and everyday living. These tasks include things like writing, typing, tying shoes and getting dressed.
An occupational therapist (OT) may work on multiple aspects of motor control. These include:
An OT may start by doing an evaluation to determine where a child has weaknesses. (There are other professionals who can also evaluate for movement issues.) From there, the therapist will come up with techniques and activities to address those weak spots. There are a number of ways OTs can help kids with DCD learn specific tasks and improve skills.
Your child’s school may provide occupational therapy for free through an . There are also private OTs who work with kids for a fee. (Some insurance companies may cover OT for DCD.)
Kids with DCD may also get physical therapy (PT) to help improve weak muscles that are needed for motor activities. PT can help improve balance and coordination, too. That can make it easier for kids with DCD to do some basic daily living and school tasks.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Issues
DCD rarely occurs on its own, so kids with this condition may get treatment for other issues, as well. Many kids with DCD also have , for example. To treat ADHD symptoms, they may take medication or do behavior therapy. Other issues that commonly co-occur include:
- Learning differences like
- Speech and language issues
- Slow processing speed
- Sensory processing issues
- Mental health issues like anxiety
Kids with DCD have unique sets of difficulties. So it’s important that they get treatment for all of the issues and challenges they have.
Support in School for DCD
Kids with DCD might get supports at school to help keep their trouble with motor skills from impacting learning. These supports might include , such as:
- Dictation (text-to-speech) software
- Paper with wide, colored or raised lines
Kids might also get accommodations in class. These might include worksheets that have the problems already written on them. Students might also get verbal and visual demonstrations to help with directions.
Some parents wonder if kids with DCD or dyspraxia should attend gym class. Read what an expert says.
Ways to Help With DCD at Home
There are many things you can do to support your child with DCD. Try activities that can help improve fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Boost your child’s self-esteem by sharing success stories of people with motor skills issues. And if you recently found out your child has DCD, learn some steps you can take to start getting the right help.
Occupational therapists can help kids learn to do key tasks, from writing to getting dressed.
Physical therapists can help with muscle strength, balance and coordination.
Classroom accommodations and assistive technology can help kids in school.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Priscila Tamplain, PhD is an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and the director of the Developmental Motor Cognition Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington.