During our recent "Lunch and Learn" workshop, presented by Kids Physio Casey Legault, Physiotherapist and Community Engagement Manager, we learned about the importance of incorporating movement in speech and language therapy for children with DCD. Casey described many different activities and exercises designed to improve motor planning, coordination, and sequencing skills.
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a motor skills disorder that affects an individual's ability to plan and coordinate movement. This disorder affects approximately 5-6% of school-aged children, and it can have significant impacts on an individual's ability to perform daily activities, including academic, social, and self-care tasks. DCD can also impact speech and language development. Children with DCD may experience difficulties with articulation, phonological processing, and language comprehension.
Using the CO-OP model, helps children develop strategies to support their own function. Think . Plan . Do . Check .
Another useful strategy presented was breaking down movements into smaller, more manageable steps, and gradually increasing the complexity of the movement as the child becomes more confident. For example, to learn how to throw a ball, use cues like "point", " hand behind ear" and "throw". Another strategy was using mirrors to help children with DCD visualize their movements and identify areas that need to be focused on.
Skill-specific tasks can be used such as animal walks including crab walk, bear crawl or flamingo stand. Simon Says and yoga are other wonderful ways to encourage movement. These activities are effective ways to improve motor skills in children with DCD. For example, animal walks can help children develop coordination and balance, while yoga can help improve body awareness and control.
Incorporating movement in speech and language therapy can be a wonderful and effective way to improve motor skills and speech and language development in children with DCD. If your child has been diagnosed with DCD, consider working with a speech and language therapist or a physiotherapist to learn more about how movement-based activities can help.
Carla Monteleone & Deborah Carter own and operate Grow Speech and Language Therapy in Vancouver, BC