Developmental coordination disorder, sex, and activity deficit over time: a longitudinal analysis of participation trajectories in children with and without coordination difficulties

John Cairney, John A Hay, Scott Veldhuizen, Cheryl Missiuna, Brent E Faught
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2010, 52 (3): e67-72

AIM: Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) are known to participate in active play less than typically developing children. However, it is not known whether the activity deficit between children with and without DCD widens or diminishes over time.

METHOD: Data were obtained from a large, prospective cohort study of children (baseline n=2278, total n=2470). Motor coordination was assessed for 2083 students using the short form of the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency. Participation in organized and free-play activities was assessed using a participation questionnaire on five occasions over 3 years. Mixed-effects modelling was used to examine differences in participation over time between children with probable DCD (pDCD, n=111, 46 males, 65 females) and their typically developing peers (n=1972, 1016 males, 956 females). The mean age for the whole sample was 9 years 11 months (SD 5 mo) at assessment 1, 10 years 5 months (SD 5 mo) at assessment 2, 10 years 11 months (SD 5 mo) at assessment 3, 11 years 4 months (SD 4 mo) at assessment 4, and 11 years 11 months (SD 4 mo) at assessment 5.

RESULTS: Children with pDCD reported less participation in organized and free-play activities than their typically developing peers, and these differences persisted over time. Among males, the gap in participation in free-play activities between those with DCD and typically developing children diminished substantially over time; among females, it increased slightly.

INTERPRETATION: DCD is associated with a persistent activity deficit in children. Its effect on participation appears to be particularly serious among females but may diminish with time among males.

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