Motor Skill Acquisition in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder

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Cheryl Missiuna McMaster University

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Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) demonstrate coordination difficulties during the learning of novel motor skills; no previous studies, however, have investigated their ability to learn and then generalize a new movement. This study compared 24 young children with DCD with 24 age-matched control children (AMC) during the early stages of learning a simple aiming task. Children with DCD were found to perform more poorly than their peers on measures of acquired motor skill, and to react and move more slowly at every level of task performance. The effect of age and its relationship to practice of the task was also different within each group. The groups did not differ, however, in their rate of learning, or in the extent to which they were able to generalize the learned movement. Children with DCD sacrificed more speed than the AMC group when aiming at a small target, but the effects of amplitude and directional changes were quite similar for each group. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Cheryl Missiuna is with the School of Occupational and Physiotherapy, McMaster University, 1200 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1, and the Neurodevelopmental Clinical Research Unit, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

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