Roadside judgments in children with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

Catherine Purcell, J. P. Wann, K. Wilmut, D. Poulter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As pedestrians, the perceptual ability to accurately judge the relative rate of approaching vehicles and select a suitable crossing gap requires sensitivity to looming. It also requires that crossing judgments are synchronized with motoric capabilities. Previous research has suggested that children with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) may have deficits in visual processing, specifically in detecting visual motion. It is possible, therefore that this population are at greater risk at the roadside. In a series of motion prediction tasks, several component roadside skills were assessed in 15 children with DCD, or at risk of DCD, aged between 6 and 11 years along with 15 typically developing age and gender matched controls. First, threshold errors for relative approach rate judgments (looming) were measured when vehicle size (car or truck) varied. Second, thresholds for crossing gap selection were measured for vehicle approach speeds of 32, 48, 64 and 80 km/h (20-50 mph). These were related to the walking speeds of children of different ages and profiles. We found that children with DCD showed a deficit in making relative approach rate judgments, using looming, which suggests they may not discern that a vehicle is travelling faster than the urban speed limit. Children with DCD also left considerably longer temporal crossing gaps than controls perhaps reflecting a lack of confidence in their ability, these preferred gaps were over twice the average inter-car gaps that occurred on roads around their school. Our findings raise a number of issues concerning children with DCD and their competence and potential limitations as pedestrians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283 - 1292
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2011


  • developmental co-ordination disorder (dcd)
  • looming
  • time to contact


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