Examining the cognitive profile of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder

Sumner, Emma J; Pratt, Michelle L. and Hill, Elisabeth L.. 2016. Examining the cognitive profile of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 56, pp. 10-17. ISSN 0891-4222 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Background. While primarily a motor disorder, research considering the cognitive abilities in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is limited; even though these children often struggle academically.

Aims. The present study aimed to characterise the IQ profile of children with and without DCD, and to identify whether children with DCD exhibit specific cognitive weaknesses.

Methods and Procedures. 104 children participated in the study. Fifty-two children (mean age, 9 years) with a diagnosis of DCD were matched to 52 typically-developing children by age and gender. Cognitive ability was assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV).

Outcomes and Results. Children with DCD performed poorer than their peers on processing speed and working memory measures. Individual analyses revealed varied performance in the DCD group across all cognitive indices, despite displaying Full-Scale IQs in the typical range. Discriminant function analyses show processing speed and working memory performance predicted only 23% of between-group variability.

Conclusions. Children with DCD present with a heterogeneous cognitive profile, lending support to individual case analyses in research and when designing educational assistance plans. The motorically-demanding nature of the WISC-IV processing speed tasks raises specific concerns about using this index of the IQ assessment in this population. Research and practical implications are raised.

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This research was jointly facilitated by an ESRC PhD studentship awarded to the second author and a Leverhulme Trust grant (RPG-2012-742) awarded to the final author. Special thanks go to all the children, parents, and schools that participated in the work described here. Thanks are also due to Dr Laura Crane for providing comments on the first draft of the manuscript.


Cognitive ability, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), diagnosis, intelligence, motor impairment

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1 September 2016Published
31 May 2016Published Online
12 May 2016Accepted

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Date Deposited:

19 May 2016 10:28

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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