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Dr. Cheryl Missiuna


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Dr. Cheryl Missiuna is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science, and a Scientist at CanChild, McMaster University. Former director of CanChild (2006-13) and past holder of the John and Margaret Lillie Chair in Childhood Disability (2014-19), Cheryl’s background is in occupational therapy with graduate degrees in educational psychology and special education. Her recent research at CanChild included leading the Partnering for Change project that evaluated an innovative model of rehabilitation services for children with disabilities in school settings in Ontario. Working with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, Cheryl contributed leadership in the development of the Facilitating Integrated Rehabilitation Services through Training (FIRST) Course. For over 27 years, Cheryl has contributed expertise regarding the early identification and prevention of secondary consequences in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), as well as in the development and evaluation of online educational resources for parents, educators, physicians and service providers. Cheryl is a co-developer with Nancy Pollock of the Perceived Efficacy and Goal Setting (PEGS) System and continues to engage actively in other research projects designed to improve the delivery of evidence-based rehabilitation services for children with disabilities in school settings.

Areas of Focus

Early identification and management of children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), Innovative models of service delivery for school-aged children with disabilities, Knowledge translation


A Shared Care Model: Providing Rehabilitation Services in Primary Care

This shared care model introduced occupational therapists (OT) into primary care offices to assist with the identification, diagnosis and management of DCD.

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Partnering for Change Model

The Partnering for Change team used evidence from the literature to design a conceptual model that was tested in school settings and refined.

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Cognitive Intervention for Children with Traumatic Brain Injury

This one year pilot study will examine the effectiveness of a short-term, individualized occupational therapy intervention with children 7-15 years of age who are experiencing difficulties at home and school after a traumatic brain injury.

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Developmental Coordination Disorder: Screening and Intervention (PHAST I)

Developmental Coordination Disorder: Examination of a feasible screening and intervention for clumsy children (PHAST I)

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In the STACK Study (which stands for Screening, Tracking and Assessing Coordination in Kids), students in Grades 4 to 8 in two school boards were screened to identify children who may have coordination difficulties.

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Development of a Parent Information KIT (KIT: Keeping it Together™)

The KIT: Keeping it Together™ has been designed to help these parents use information as a tool that will help them to get 'the best' for their child(ren).

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Evaluation of an information KIT for parents of children with special needs: Use, utility and impact

The focus of this two-year prospective evaluation (N=500) is to determine the perceptions of impact and use of the Parent Information KIT (KIT: Keeping it Together™) in pediatric rehabilitation settings.

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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion) Education

In collaboration with the College of Family physicians and the Provincial MTBI Strategy, the team will work to develop and evaluate user-friendly materials that help physicians in: identification of MTBI; recommendations for return to activity and school; referral guidelines for further services, specifically for children/youth in their practice.

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An Update On The Use Of Virtual Reality Technology To Improve Movement In Children With Physical Impairments

The use of virtual reality technology as a rehabilitation intervention to improve or remediate children's movement skills is being explored in clinical practice and research.

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Adolescents with cerebral palsy: Transition to high school

The literature helps in understanding the things that affect children with CP in moving from preschool to primary school and from school to post-secondary options.

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A DCD module for physiotherapists: increase in self-reported knowledge and skills

An online evidence-based DCD module could thus support PTs to implement best DCD practice.

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Early Identification: Are Toddlers with Speech/Language Impairments at Increased Risk for Developmental Coordination Disorder?

Some children with speech/language impairment show delays in their ability to communicate, which are not due to any sensory, intellectual or neurological disorder.

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Canadian child development organizations lead research in innovative supports for making practice changes based on evidence

Administrators in the study reported that knowledge brokering appears to be an efficient strategy for providing educational opportunities that enable integration of new ideas into everyday practice.

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Children with DCD: At home, at school and in the community (Booklet)

This booklet is designed to help parents and educators identify and manage school-aged children who are demonstrating movement problems typical of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

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Developmental Coordination Disorder: What does it mean to me?

This flyer will help answer some of your questions about DCD, provide you with helpful tools and resources to manage your coordination challenges and help you be successful…now and in the future!

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The Motor Learning Strategy Clinical Decision-Making Process

A clinical decision-making process outlining how therapists can use motor learning strategies in practice.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Role of the Physician

When parents bring their children into the office for healthy child visits, you have a wonderful opportunity to explore many areas of child development including cognitive, speech, language, gross motor and fine motor, social and self-care.

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Encouraging Participation In Physical Activities For Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder

Parents of children with DCD are often confused and worried about their child’s lack of interest in physical activity. Parents, teachers and coaches may mistakenly label these children as lazy and unmotivated.

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Children with Coordination Difficulties: A Flyer for Physical Educators

Some children have a great deal of difficulty learning to coordinate their movements and may appear awkward or clumsy. These children often struggle with participation in physical education class as well as in other subjects that involve handling objects, such as art, music or drama classes.

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Succeeding at School: Accommodations for Students with Coordination Difficulties

DCD is a medical diagnosis, not an educational diagnosis; as such, it does not easily lead to programming to meet children’s learning needs at school. Many children with DCD do not qualify for, nor do they need, special education services.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The role of the Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists assess young children with motor difficulties and/or delays by observing movement skills and asking critical key questions about their motor abilities and development.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: Role of the Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists often receive referrals for young children who are demonstrating early delays in speech and/or language development.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Role of the Occupational Therapist

Children who are experiencing difficulties with handwriting and other fine motor activities at school are often referred for an occupational therapy (OT) assessment.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The role of the optometrist

Children who present with school-related difficulties that have a visual or visual-motor basis may have a number of things happening. In this flyer, we provide information about school-aged children who have had their vision tested and who do not appear to have significant visual problems.

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Recognizing and Referring Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: The Role of the Psychologist

Children who are experiencing learning difficulties at school are frequently referred for psychoeducational assessment.

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Developmental Trajectories of Youth with Disabilities (age 12-25 years of age): A Knowledge Synthesis

This report is the outcome of a knowledge synthesis project on developmental trajectories of youth with disabilities, ages 12 - 25 years.

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Youth KIT

The purpose of this study is to obtain the ideas, perspectives, and needs of youth with disabilities, parents, and service providers for the content and design of the Youth version of the KIT (Keeping It Together), and to test the utility of the Youth KIT for youth with multiple exceptionalities.

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M.A.T.C.H. Flyers: A Resource for Educators

The most important thing a teacher can do to help a child reach his/her full potential is to make sure the task and the learning environment are right for the child.

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Partnering for Change: Stakeholder Alliance Symposium

Partnering for Change (P4C) is a new way for occupational therapists to provide school-based services to children with DCD.

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Occupational Therapy Role in the School: Partnering for Change Model

Occupational therapists (OTs) are regulated health care professionals who work with children in a variety of settings, including schools.

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Developing Service Provision Models for Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder

Early identification, assessment and intervention need to happen during the preschool years to help children with DCD develop pre-academic skills, facilitate transition into school and prevent the development of secondary problems.

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