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Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Basic Information
Introduction to Disorders of ChildhoodIntellectual DisabilitiesMotor Skills DisordersLearning DisordersCommunication DisordersAutism and Pervasive Developmental DisordersADHD and Disruptive Behavior DisordersFeeding and Elimination DisordersAnxiety DisordersReactive Attachment DisorderStereotypic Movement DisorderTic DisordersInfancy, Childhood or Adolescence, Not Otherwise Specified
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Related Topics

Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Motor Skills Disorder Treatment and Recommended Reading

Andrea Barkoukis, M.A., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.


Generally, physical or occupational therapists will work with children to develop and improve their physical skills, as well as strengthen their muscles. Community-based services (leisure and recreation groups) in the home or school-setting may also be beneficial. Often, circumventions, or "by-pass methods" are used. In other words, special adaptations, such as allowing an unlimited amount of time for children to take tests, providing modifications in requirements for handwriting, using specialty tools such as left-handed scissors, or adaptive writing instruments are helpful in enabling children to achieve academic and occupational goals.

boy playing with trainTargeted multi-sensory interventions include Perceptual Motor Training and Sensory Integrative Therapy. Perceptual Motor Training involves retraining children's bodies to recognize and prioritize various sources of stimulation (stimuli) and respond accordingly. They may learn how to use certain muscle groups rather than others while walking or grasping things, for instance. Sensory Integrative Therapy teaches individuals how to properly absorb and sort information about sensory experiences such as touch, body position, or sound (e.g., knowing how hard to bite down or how wide to open your mouth). Helpful though these approaches are thought to be, a word of caution is warranted. Neither approach has been subjected to rigorous scientific investigation. In addition, some insurance companies may not pay for these types of expensive, hands-on interventions.

The course of Developmental Coordination Disorder is unpredictable. For some children, the disorder essentially goes away after a while. For others, the lack of coordination continues through adolescence and into adulthood. Though early intervention is better than later intervention, treatment received as an adult can still help lessen the severity of symptoms.

For more information on Developmental Coordination Disorder, visit the website of the Bright Minds Institute or review our recommended reading selections below.

Recommended Reading

Developmental Coordination Disorder: Hints and Tips for the Activities of Daily Living, by Morven Ball.

Developmental Dyspraxia: Identification and Intervention. A Manual for Parents and Professionals.

How to Help a Clumsy Child: Strategies for Young Children with Developmental Motor Concerns, by Lisa A. Kurtz

Dyspraxia, A Guide for Teachers and Parents, by Kate Ripley, Bob Daines, & Jenny Barrett