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Developmental Coordination Disorder in Adults

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Developmental Coordination Disorder is a neurological disease that affects an individual's ability to use their muscles smoothly. Read this lesson to learn about how this disorder can negatively impact adulthood and how it may be treated.

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder?

Developmental Coordination Disorder, also known as dyspraxia, affects a person's ability of their muscles to communicate and function together as a team. In other words, this disorder affects the coordination of different parts of the body disrupting smooth motions and making it difficult to complete physical tasks with precision.

Carl is a highly intelligent, persistent, 36 year-old-adult. His Developmental Coordination Disorder affects his ability to fluidly complete tasks of daily living. While his gross (large, general movements) motor skills are only minimally affected, he must spend a lot of extra time when completing fine (smaller movements often requiring at least moderate dexterity) motor activities.

Hallmark Signs of Developmental Coordination Disorder

  • Motor function - Motor function includes the muscles' ability to complete large movements including walking, sitting, hugging, carrying large boxes, kicking, and so much more. It also impacts smaller and more delicate movements like tying shoe laces, braiding hair, and flossing teeth.
  • Perception - Not only does Developmental Coordination Disorder affect large and small movements and tasks that are easily taken for granted, but it affects the neurological system at a deeper level. This condition can cause an interruption in the signals of even the smallest of muscles, meaning that senses like vision and hearing can be impaired or easily overwhelmed.
  • Disorganization - Even though the condition is rare, about half of individuals experience this order have a severe case of it. Severe Developmental Coordination Disorder can even impact the person's ability to complete tasks in an organized fashion and follow commands.

A physician diagnosed Carl with this rare condition as a young child after his kindergarten teacher noticed Carl having an especially hard time using pens, pencils, and being unable to play with simple toys. Childhood is typical for most Development Coordination Disorder diagnoses, and commonly accompany many other behavioral conditions which may make the disorder more apparent throughout human development.

Impact on Adult Life

Developmental Coordination Disorder can impact people at any age, throughout the lifespan, and in varying intensity. Although both fine and gross motor skills and function may be affected, Carl learned early in adulthood that his condition would present many challenges when he finally decided to leave the home where he grew up.

Carl finally decides to move out and start his life as an independent adult and learns exactly what kind of impact his Developmental Coordination Disorder has on his life. Quickly he finds that he has difficulty operating a vehicle, due to the coordination and perception required to drive a car safely. Carl is even unable to prepare some of his favorite meals that he used to eat when he lived at home.

Receiving Treatment

Carl realizes that he relied a lot on his family members to conquer some of the tasks of daily living and that he would have to make modifications to successfully adapt to his new independence. He decides to consult with the physical and occupation therapists that he used to see when he was younger.

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