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Since the first description of a syndrome of clumsiness as a developmental disorder in the 1930s, and refinement of the term to "clumsy child syndrome" in 1975, children with motor coordination problems have been given a variety of labels over the past few decades including, but not limited to: developmental dyspraxia, minimal brain dysfunction, perceptuo-motor dysfunction, physically awkward, and specific developmental disorder of motor function.
With health professionals increasingly sharing research evidence across countries and disciplines, this wide variation in terminology led to considerable confusion. Without a consistent label for the disorder, it became difficult to obtain prevalence estimates and to establish diagnostic criteria. As a result, the disorder did not gain legitimacy as a health problem until 1994, when an international panel of experts was convened at a consensus meeting held in London, Ontario. At that meeting, a decision was made to recognize "clumsy" children as having Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). DCD is the term that was introduced in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1989 and that has been retained in more recent editions of the manual.
In the time since that landmark consensus statement in 1994, research into the disorder has grown considerably with a need to re-visit the concepts as outlined in the 1994 consensus. In 2006, The Leeds Consensus Statement was developed as part of the Economic and Social Research Council Seminar Series in Leeds, United Kingdom. International DCD researchers and clinicians representing multiple disciplines met to re-examine and develop consensus on topic areas such as DCD core concepts, diagnostic criteria, assessment, co-occurring disorders and management. This consensus document highlights the retention of the term DCD, recognition of the disorder as distinct and unique, and outlines recommendations for the application of diagnostic criteria. Guidelines for assessment are provided along with general intervention principles.
At the ninth Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) International Conference held in Switzerland in June 2011, new guidelines for the assessment and diagnosis of DCD were announced. These guidelines resulted from the work of an international group of researchers and clinicians. They have been accepted in a number of European countries and are now posted on the European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD) website, and in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology (click for abstract). Guidelines for the United Kingdom are currently under development.
For more information:
Polatajko, H. J., Fox, M., & Missiuna, C. (1995). An international consensus on children with developmental coordination disorder. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 3-6.
Sugden, D. A., Chambers, M., & Utley, A. (2006). Leeds Consensus Statement 2006. Accessible at: www.dcd-uk.org/consensus.html