Developmental Coordination Disorder

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD):

DCD is a common developmental condition affecting fine and gross motor coordination in children and adults.  Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present, these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experience. 

The diagnosis is given where children have difficulties with motor performance which is substantially below expected levels, given the children's chronological age and previous opportunities for skill development.  These difficulties significantly and persistently interfere with activities of daily living or academic achievement, which cannot be better explained by a physical, intellectual or sensory impairment.  The diagnosis is usually made by a Paediatrician, often in collaboration with Paediatric Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapist following assessments. 

Dyspraxia or DCD?

The terms DCD and Dyspraxia are used in many ways and some people use the term dyspraxia interchangeably with DCD.  DCD is the umbrella term to describe motor coordination difficulties and has an internationally agreed definition recorded within the DSM-5.  Dyspraxia is a form of DCD used under that umbrella, which refers to those individuals who have additional problems planning, organising and carrying out movement in the right order, in everyday situations.  

0732 - Developmental 1 0732 - Developmental 2  0732 - Developmental 3 



Your child may have difficulties with some or all of the following:

  • Personal care e.g. washing, toileting, using cutlery, dressing (doing up buttons, tying shoe laces , putting clothes on the right way round).
  • Physical play and sports e.g. hopping, jumping, running, catching or kicking a ball, balance, coordination, climbing, bumping into things and falling over.
  • Handwriting, drawing and using scissors.
  • Arts and crafts and playing with construction toys.
  • Learning new tasks e.g. riding a bike.
  • Low muscle strength/tone so can appear ‘floppy’ and struggles to sit upright, uses too much or too little force

Some children may also experience:

  • Difficulties with general organisation and planning e.g. losing clothing and books.
  • Social and emotional difficulties e.g. low self-esteem, avoiding sports. 
  • Concentrating and remaining still in chair or standing.
  • Difficulties following instructions and copying down information.

How can I support my child?

There is no cure for DCD, however, there are strategies to  support developing skills and encourage them to participate in activities.  Such as:

  • Breaking down difficult tasks into much smaller parts and practice them regularly.
  • As your child practices and improves, gradually increase the demands of the task.
  • Provide opportunities for regular practice of activities and exercise, both in school at home.
  • Encourage practice at every opportunity ‘little and often’ is best for learning e.g. ten minutes everyday rather then one long session each week.
  • Try to ensure that your child practices movement skills in a variety of different ways so they can generalise to new situations e.g. throwing and catching with different sized balls of different weights with the child in different positions.


  • Obstacle courses, playground equipment, park, soft play.
  • Sensory circuits at school.
  • Swimming, gymnastics, karate, dancing, yoga, sports in small groups.
  • Throwing and catching, skittles, target games, hopscotch, action songs, star jumps, trampoline, skipping.
  • Space hoppers, riding, balance bikes, scooters, wheelbarrow walks.
  • Mazes, dot-to-dots, colouring, activity books, writing, drawing, touch typing, cutting, origami. 
  • Construction toys e.g. Lego, Duplo, Mecano, Kiddie K’nex.
  • Puzzles, threading, board games.
  • Cooking, baking, gardening, home help e.g. hanging washing.
  • Playdoh, space putty, plasticine.
  • Practicing buttons, laces, zips, ties.



  • Allow extra time
  • Do lots of practice
  • Praise successes
  • Use repetition
  • Do not pressure
  • Allow variability


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