Management and Intervention in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: the role of teachers and parents


Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are a heterogeneous group who have a marked impairment in the performance of functional skills. Provision for these children is usually made via a paediatrician through occupational or physiotherapy though, with a prevalence rate of 5%, regular provision is not possible due to limited professional resources.


The study aimed to determine the extent to which parents and teachers, with guidance, can assist in the management of children with DCD; whether children with DCD are helped in this way and how this may contribute to our understanding of the condition.


Thirty-one children with DCD aged 7 to 9 years participated in the study.


Following assessment, individual profiles were developed and each week teachers and parents were given guidelines for working with the children and each child had 3 to 4 sessions a week lasting approximately for 20 minutes. In Phase 1, one group of children worked with teachers and the other group worked with parents. In Phase 2, the two groups of children swapped over. The children were assessed regularly throughout the project using the Movement ABC, together with diaries and comments from teachers and parents.


The results of the study were extremely encouraging. At the beginning of the study 23 out of the 31 children scored below the 5th percentile and by the end only 4 scored so low. In addition, no improvement took place during the periods of no intervention, indicating that it was not maturation that facilitated the better scores, but all improvement took place during the intervention sessions. As we had data on children and the amount of intervention they received we combined this information and placed the children into four categories:

  • Category 1 consists of children who received moderate intervention or more and who showed improvement, and included 22 of the original 31 children.
  • Category 2 consists of children who, despite receiving moderate intervention or more, showed little or no improvement, and included 2 children.
  • Category 3 consists of children who received only a small amount of intervention and yet showed improvement, and included 6 children.
  • Category 4 consists of children who received little intervention and did not display improvement, and 1 child fell into this category.As children with DCD are a heterogeneous group, profiles detailing the progress of individual children have also been created.


Both teachers and parents were able to provide effective intervention for the majority of the children. It is possible that the children who did not improve have difficulties that are of a more complex type which require more specialist therapy to meet their need.

Project Publications

Sugden, D.A. & Chambers, M.E. (2003) Intervention in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: the role of parents and teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 545-561

Sugden, D.A. & Chambers, M.E. (2001) Management and intervention in children with developmental coordination disorder: the role of teachers and parents. Research Report submitted to Action Research, 124pp