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Co-occurring disorders: a possible key to visual perceptual deficits in children with developmental coordination disorder?

Human Movement Science 2008 Februrary
A study was conducted to examine how visual perceptual functioning in children with DCD may be influenced by co-occurring learning problems such as reading disabilities (RD) and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Participants included seven groups of children: 27 children with DCD only, 11 with ADHD only, 14 with RD only, 63 with DCD and at least one other disorder (i.e., DCD + ADHD, DCD + RD, DCD + ADHD + RD), and 73 typically developing controls. Visual perceptual skills were assessed using the Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (TVPS) and the Rey Osterreith Complex Figure (ROCF; copy and delayed recall). Children with DCD and at least one other disorder were found to have impairments on the TVPS compared to children with DCD only, ADHD only, and typically developing controls, particularly on subtests assessing visual memory. On the ROCF, children with DCD and at least one other disorder scored significantly lower than children with ADHD only or RD only. Children with DCD plus one other disorder were then subdivided into three groups: DCD + ADHD, DCD + RD, and DCD + ADHD + RD and compared to children with DCD only, ADHD only, and RD only. Results indicated that children with DCD + ADHD + RD had significant impairments on the TVPS compared to children with DCD only and children with ADHD only. On the ROCF, children with DCD + ADHD + RD scored significantly lower than all of the groups, except the DCD+RD group. These findings suggest that DCD on its own is not associated with visual perceptual problems; rather, it is the presence of co-occurring disorders that is a possible key to visual perceptual deficits in children with DCD. The number of co-occurring disorders present with DCD is associated with the severity of the visual perceptual dysfunction. Deficits in visual memory skills appear to be a specific area of difficulty for children with DCD and co-occurring RD and/or ADHD.

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