Emotional and behavioural problems in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: Exploring parent and teacher reports.


BACKGROUND: Although characterised by motor impairments, children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) also show high rates of psychopathology (anxiety, depression, low self-esteem). Such findings have led to calls for the screening of mental health problems in this group. AIMS: To investigate patterns and profiles of emotional and behavioural problems in children with and without DCD, using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Teachers and parents completed SDQs for 30 children with DCD (7-10 years). Teacher ratings on the SDQ were also obtained from two typically-developing (TD) groups: 35 children matched for chronological age, and 29 younger children (4-7 years) matched by motor ability. OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: Group and individual analyses compared parent and teacher SDQ scores for children with DCD. Teacher reports showed that children with DCD displayed higher rates of emotional and behavioural problems (overall, and on each subscale of the SDQ) relative to their TD peers. No differences were observed between the two TD groups. Inspection of individual data points highlighted variability in the SDQ scores of the DCD group (across both teacher and parent ratings), with suggestions of elevated hyperactivity but comparably lower levels of conduct problems across this sample. Modest agreement was found between teacher and parent ratings of children with DCD on the SDQ. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: There is a need to monitor levels of emotional and behavioural problems in children with DCD, from multiple informants.