Preventable Consequences

PTs can work to prevent secondary consequences from developing

  • Secondary consequences are impairments, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions that result from an impairment or impairments in body structure and/or function.
  • Coordination difficulties are the primary impairment in DCD, but they are often just the “tip of the iceberg”. Secondary mental and physical health issues are often associated with DCD. These consequences may be preventable by encouraging participation and physical activity.
  • It is important to identify children with DCD early in order to prevent the secondary consequences illustrated in the figure below.

This figure illustrates that "there is a balance that may tip toward more negative outcomes as the child gets older. An accumulation of negative experiences in school and on the playground, resulting from poor coordination, could lead to secondary consequences for the child’s emotional health" (Missiuna, Moll, King, King & Law, 2007: 95). Click to download.

This video is a mother of a child with DCD explaining how therapists can foster self-esteem and prevent secondary consequences.

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Question for Reflection
Why are social relationships challenging for children with DCD?
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Why are social relationships challenging for children with DCD?

Difficulties in social relationships may be due to a number of factors. Continued difficulties with daily activities and academic performance can impact a child’s self-esteem, leading him or her to be withdrawn or shy around peers. A child with DCD may show a lack of interest in, or avoid social events because of the physical demands of many group activities. This is particularly true for boys in the primary grades, due to the physical nature of play. Overall, these play differences can impact upon the development of healthy social relationships. A child with DCD may be easily frustrated or upset due to the challenges experienced with activities required in all aspects of daily life. Displays of frustration may make it more difficult for other children to want to engage in play with the child with DCD. Fear of failure and embarrassment can be another factor influencing social relationships among children with motor difficulties and their peers. Children with DCD may avoid social situations, worrying about how other children will perceive them and whether or not they will be the victims of bullying.

So what about Max?
Max has already started to withdraw from team sports and is spending much of his free time alone and in sedentary activities. His parents indicate that Max feels embarrassed and stays away from motor activities on the playground and after school for fear of being ridiculed by his peers. To prevent further negative consequences, you will want to collaborate with his teacher and parents, encouraging them to find opportunities to "showcase" Max's talents, for instance by having him read in front of the class, or by joining in the school theatre group.