Focus on Participation

Children don’t ‘outgrow’ DCD but secondary conditions are preventable: Focus on health promotion, prevention, and participation!

  • Children with DCD have body structure and function deficits but this is rarely the level of concern of children and families.
  • Coordination difficulties persist and may lead to decreased physical fitness, strength, and endurance over time.
  • Physical activity and participation can be improved!
  • Strengthening and endurance exercise will improve body function, but using meaningful activities will improve participation and impairment at the same time.
  • Goals targeting environmental factors, activity limitations, and participation restrictions are likely to be the most beneficial.
Prevention and Participation in Goal Setting
  • Participation is a key goal of rehabilitation and contributes to children’s well being.
  • Clinicians may have a global participation goal in mind, but frequently set impairment-focused goals. Wondering if having an impairment or an activity/participation focus really makes a difference for goal setting and intervention? See the case scenario: Skipping with Max.

Engagement in meaningful activities and encouraging social interaction are key participation concepts to consider. For example, for health promotion you may want to build on a child's strengths and interests by recommending individual, repetitive-movement sports like swimming and cycling, and foster social interactions with peers through other leisure activities, such as theatre.

You can found more information about participation at:
PARTICIPATION! Every child's goal

Question for Reflection
How can regular participation in community physical and social activities prevent secondary consequences?
Click here for some thoughts on this question
How can regular participation in community physical and social activities prevent secondary consequences?

Participating in physical and community activities not only provides opportunities for the physical practice of motor skills, it also provides opportunities to interact with others to develop friendships and increase self-esteem. Participation can be instrumental in avoiding the cascade of negative secondary consequences that begins with coordination differences and leads to participation restrictions and negative impacts on peer relations, self-perceptions, and emotional health.

So what about Max?
Max has coordination difficulties and impairments at the body structure and function level, but these are not his first concern. He would like to keep up with his peers, and participate in different activities, such as skipping and riding his bicycle.