Developmental Coordination Disorder

What is Developmental Coordination disorder (DCD)?

Children with DCD often find it more challenging to do movements than other children like everyday tasks such as brushing their teeth, using knives and forks, handwriting and dressing themselves. Children with DCD can be less confident about themselves and playing with other children, particularly when the activities involve movement like sport. This can mean that kids with DCD exclude themselves from playing with other children, or stand to the side.

Movement problems differ from child to child. For example, some children may seem ‘clumsy’ when they walk, bumping into things and tripping over. Others may drop things and find it difficult to use their hands. Regardless, the need to be included and given a chance to succeed in physical activities are the most important factors to consider when working with children with DCD. While lots of children can seem a bit ‘clumsy’ at a young age, this is much more pronounced in kids with DCD.

What might be some challenges on the footy field?

  • Younger children with DCD may find it more challenging marking the football, kicking, running and playing compared to other kids.
  • As children with DCD get older, they often become more aware of their motor challenges, and can lose confidence in their movement abilities. They may withdraw from footy by either standing to the side, or not playing footy at all.

Give children a chance to do well

  • Simplify training drills: Some children may need to spend time doing ‘simpler’ drills. This will give them a chance to improve their footy skills and do well – with success comes confidence and enjoyment.
  • Give more time: Slowing drills down and simplifying instructions can be a useful way of helping kids succeed.
  • Give more practice: Children with DCD can actually achieve skills similar to other children if they are given more practice. They may take longer to get there, but repetition of the same drill can help them improve their movements so that they don’t feel like they’re getting left behind.
  • Match groups by skill level: Matching kids of the same skill level in small groups may help kids feel more at ease and confident that they fit in.

Set goals with children

  • Ask the child what they want to be able to do: For example, kick a drop punt. Plan how they might be able to do this, including talking about techniques and strategies that they might use. Let them practise the skill. Finally, give the child a chance to check how they went. This last point allows them to evaluate their performance, focussing on what they did well and what they can improve on. A child’s plan can then change as they try to reach their goals.
  • If a child can’t achieve their goal, work with them to modify it so that it can become achievable: For example, if they can’t mark the footy, they may be able to tap the ball from the air down to the ground where they can then pick it up.

Keep kids with DCD active and included

  • If a child with DCD loses confidence in their footy ability, they often lose confidence in other areas and can find it difficult to make friends. If you notice that a child with DCD is withdrawing and doesn’t want to play footy, consider alternative roles that will keep them involved and active.

Related Videos

Related Animations

Related Footy Stories

How to learn new things