Monday, January 23, 2006

The Neurology of Kids Who Don't Fit In

This Australian group found that developmental coordination disorder had a high incidence of social difficulties, mood, and self-esteem problems. Although generally DCD is thought to be a motor disorder (used to be called "clumsy child" syndrome), they show that there's much more than motor impairment. They hypothesize that it's the visual processing problems in DCD that interfere with an accurate reading of social cues.

In some circles, kids with DCD are known as quirky children, children with sensory processing problems ('out of sync'), or they have been mislabeled with Aspergers or PDD-NOS. They typically have low tone, sensory sensitivities, poor fine motor coordination (hate to write), and mood and social difficulties.

They often have strong attachments to their families but may struggle in the classroom.

The results in this study agree with our clinical experience. These children have often had mild birth injuries and with visual pathway injury. They do miss quick visual social cues. Young boys are usually noticeably worse than young girls because girls have an advantage reading emotional facial expressions.

BTW, recognizing and responding to facial expressions is learned, not inborn. Adults are "better" than children and you can see developmental differences at the level of amygdala activation.

Attention, DCD, and Social Difficulties
Enhancing Emotional Vocabulary
Emotional Intelligence and Reading Faces
Children and Adults and Emotional Facial Recognition

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