Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder (DCD)

What is Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder?

DCD, also known as dyspraxia, is a motor disorder affecting the ability to achieve both gross and fine motor skills in children that is not attributable to other motor disorders e.g. Cerebral Palsy, stroke etc…

This affects 5 to 6 % of school aged children more commonly occurring in boys compared with girls. DCD can occur in conjunction with other developmental conditions e.g. autism, ADHD and speech-language delays.

Although this condition is not newly discovered it can often be overlooked by practitioners. DCD does persist into adolescence and adulthood.

How is it diagnosed?
If a child is believed to have motor difficulties it is important to have an assessment by either family doctor or paediatrician to ensure the movement difficulties are not due to other conditions e.g. physical, neurological or behavioural disorders.

CanChild website, 2015, explains a diagnosis of DCD is made by a medical doctor when the following is identified:

  • Learning and execution of coordinated motor skills is below age level given the child’s opportunity for skill learning
  • Motor difficulties significantly interfere with activities of daily living, academic productivity, prevocational and vocational activities, leisure and play
  • Onset in the early developmental period
  • Motor coordination difficulties are not better explained by intellectual delay, visual impairment, or other neurological conditions that affect movement.

An article discovered by Kirby and Sugden, 2007, included a quote written in 1940s about a clumsy child that describes how a DCD child may present, taking into account that all children can present differently.
“awkward in movements, poor at games, hopeless in dancing and gymnastics, a bad writer and defective in concentration. He is inattentive, cannot sit still, leaves his shoelaces untied, does buttons wrongly, bumps into furniture, breaks glassware, slips off his chair, kicks his legs against the desk, and perhaps reads badly”


  1. Ensure you identify their strengths, not only their weaknesses, and help in raising their self esteem
  2. Get them into exercise with peers. They may not enjoy team sports or sports where you need to predict the movement but exercise such as swimming is ideal
  3. Ensure you make the most of social opportunities that are appropriate to your child’s abilities
  4. Break each task down into simple steps that are achievable

Paediatric Physiotherapists are trained to assist with any gross motor difficulties. We can work with your child to identify goals, of both the child and the parent, and identify strategies to achieve these goals.
DCD can have a significant impact on your child. Not only does it present with motor difficulties but these motor difficulties can lead to an avoidance of sport, reduced fitness, increased weight gain and fatigue. It can also lead to anxiety, depression and low self esteem.

Book your child an appointment with our Paediatric Physiotherapist, Natalie Rush, today by calling 3491 6533.