Coordination Disorders in the Early Years


The years from three to six are a time when children develop fundamental movement skills that are the building blocks for the functional movements they use throughout their lives including running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing, throwing, catching, kicking, striking, manipulating, writing and drawing. Later these skills are developed through refinement, combination, adaptation and exploration. However, some children on entry into school do not have a full range of these fundamental skills and this lack of competence in motor skills often affects their academic work and their normal activities of daily living Children like this are described by the internationally recognised term Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). We have a number of studies to show that intervention in children with DCD can be effective and there are grounds for optimism if clear, structured approaches are taken. More recently it has been found that school and home-based approaches have been successful with the majority of children. However, there have been no studies to our knowledge which have systematically identified children in the pre school age followed by a period of intervention.


This study proposes to: trial the use of an assessment instrument designed to identify and assess movement difficulties in the age range three to six yearsexamine the efficacy of 'low level' intervention programmes for children identified with problemsproduce guidelines in assessment and management for teachers, nursery care workers and parents of children in the age range three to six for working with children who have motor delays or impairment.


Following all the appropriate permissions, teachers provided a list of children in the age range who they believe have movement difficulties (selected sample). In addition, three girls and three boys have been randomly chosen from each class (random sample). 317 children have been assessed by the teachers on the Early Years Movement Skills Checklist (Chambers & Sugden, 2005). Those children who are in the older ages (four years and over and who scored below the 15th percentile plus a sample above the 15th percentile) have also been assessed for validity purposes on the Movement ABC Test (Henderson & Sugden, 1992). All classes have been visited and discussion held with teachers and parents concerning their involvement.From the assessments, 38 children who scored below the 15th percentile on the EYMSC have been selected for intervention. Profiles of these children have been outlined together with priorities for intervention. The children have been placed into one of two groups. Group One, consisting of 18 children, is currently receiving 'global, experiential' low level intervention and teachers have been asked to give these activities to the children at least 3 times a week during the intervention period of 10 weeks. The project team has prepared lesson templates for them which are updated every three weeks.

Work to be completed

December 2005
Following the first phase of intervention, all children in the project, both those who had intervention and those who did not, will be assessed again on the EYMSC and teachers and parents will be interviewed.

January-March 2006
Group Two (consisting of 20 children) will be given the low level intervention. A final assessment will be given to all children, followed by interviews with parents and teachers.

April-May 2006
We will hold an in-service day for the teachers in the project to cascade guidelines for intervention.

April-September 2006
Analyse and write up the study for report and academic and professional publications.