Early identification: are speech/language-impaired toddlers at increased risk for Developmental Coordination Disorder?
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BACKGROUND: Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a movement skill disorder which impacts upon a child's ability to perform age-appropriate self-care and academic tasks. DCD is commonly comorbid with speech/language learning disabilities. AIM: The present study was conducted to determine whether children who had been identified with speech/language delays as toddlers demonstrated characteristics of DCD and/or speech/language problems at kindergarten age. RESULTS: Speech/language and motor assessments who were followed up at 63-80 months of age. Of the 40 children, 18 showed evidence of significant motor impairment and two-thirds of these met diagnostic criteria for DCD at follow-up. Twelve children were identified as having persistent speech/language problems and, of these, nine presented with significant motor co-ordination difficulties. Parental report of gross motor and fine motor problems at follow-up correlated highly with actual motor impairment scores. CONCLUSIONS: Young children who are in early intervention programmes for speech/language delays may have significant co-ordination difficulties that will become more evident at kindergarten age when motor deficits begin to impact self-care and academic tasks. Clinical implications for early recognition of motor issues by speech/language pathologists and the potential use of parental reporting tools are addressed.
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