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It can be terrifying for a parent to recognize that their child has a developmental condition. While you may be getting frustrated with your child’s clumsiness and inability to follow instructions, your child may actually have Developmental Coordination Disorder, which can be treated with pediatric physical therapy.

What Is Developmental Coordination Disorder?

Your child may not simply be acting stubborn when you instruct them to make their bed, and they fail to do so. Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a condition in which your child’s body lacks the ability to follow through with their cognitive intentions.

Your child may very well understand that the bed needs to be made and even mentally comprehend how to do it, but their hands and feet can’t seem to follow through with their brain’s instruction. The exact cause of DCD is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by delays in neurological development.

What Are the Symptoms?

You may begin noticing the symptoms not long after your child’s birth. They may experience difficulty nursing and be delayed in their developmental milestones such as crawling, speaking, and walking. As they get older, they may walk unsteadily, drop their schoolbooks, bump into objects, and have trouble climbing stairs or even holding a crayon.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your child will need to be evaluated by a pediatrician or child psychiatrist in order to be diagnosed with DCD. First, your pediatrician will need to conduct a physical examination to rule out medical causes for your child’s behavior. Then your child’s brain and motor skills will be evaluated through several skills assessments.

Generally speaking, if the doctors can find no other explanation for your child’s behavior, the symptoms began at a young age, and the delays interfere with your child’s ability to perform basic tasks and complete schoolwork, your child may be diagnosed with DCD.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Pediatric physical therapy can help your child begin to develop coordination and balance. Although your child may prefer to withdraw from sports, physical activity should be encouraged to help your child’s brain learn how to communicate with their body. Additionally, an occupational therapist can help your child learn to perform activities of daily living on their own.

If your child has DCD, don’t give up hope. Although the condition is lifelong, early intervention with pediatric physical therapy can help them achieve a fulfilling life.