Evidence-informed occupational therapy interventions for children with developmental coordination disorder
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Children with developmental coordination disorders (DCD) inherently have neuromotor disruptions that impact their functional performance (Watemberg et al., 2007). The prevalence of developmental coordination disorder is high among children with diagnoses such as ADHD and autism (Maciver et al., 2011). DCD presents with motor coordination problems, visual motor integration difficulties, sensory processing differences, and communication and behavior challenges. These difficulties lead to specific learning delays that affect reading, writing, and math as well as related mental health problems. There is an emerging body of evidence substantiating the need for effective diagnosis, which would lead to improved management of the population. Evidenced-based occupational therapy interventions for children with DCD are limited, which impacts the training opportunities for occupational therapists who are interested in using effective interventions in their practice. The literature highlights the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP) method as the only evidence-based practice intervention method, however sensory integration treatment is the preferred treatment used by 90% of pediatric occupational therapists in the United States (AOTA, 2015b). Although there is limited evidence supporting popular interventions such as sensory integration, neurodevelopmental therapies, and deficit-oriented interventions, there is a growing interest and desire for ways to address the needs of the DCD population. Consistent themes throughout the literature are to promote awareness and develop appropriate evidence-based interventions for children being diagnosed with DCD. I propose that this clinical gap can be remediated by providing an evidence-informed, multi-faceted intervention model that is supported by current neuroscience research. With growing bodies of literature in the neuroscience research community, I propose using an integrated model such as the Margow Model (Margow, 2014). The model integrates several philosophies of treatment that can be easily implemented with a clear plan of intervention. Occupational therapists need an accessible tool that incorporates task-oriented interventions, sensory processing strategies, cognitive strategies and functional activities that can be carried over into daily living skills.