Dyspraxia, or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Developmental Co- ordination Disorder (DCD), as outlined in DSM IV (American Psychiatric Association 1994):

  • Performance in daily living activities that required motor co-ordination is substantially below that expected given the person’s chronological age and measured intelligence. This may be manifested in delays in achieving motor milestones (i.e. walking, crawling, sitting) dropping things, ‘clumsiness’.  Significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living.
  • The disturbance is not due to a general medical condition (e.g. Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia or Muscular Dystrophy), and does not meet the criteria for a pervasive Developmental disorder.
  • If Global Learning Difficulties are present the motor difficulties are in excess of those associated with it.

It is essential that early referral is made in order that children do not develop behavioural difficulties due to their frustration at not being able to carry out the same tasks as their peers.

Clues are:

  • Does the child’s motor skill appear to be behind their cognitive skills?
  • Dose the child appear to move generally in an uncoordinated way i.e. walking, running, manoeuvring around objects?
  • Does the child fall over constantly, bump into things, and /or knock thing over?
  • Has the child developed a dominant hand i.e. does he/she prefer to use one hand for more tasks?
  • Does the child have difficulties with dressing especially organising themselves? Do they find laces, small fastening and cutlery difficult?
  • What is their attention span like? Are they always fidgeting or squirming?
  • Are they having significant difficulties in the classroom in relation to their peer e.g. poor behaviour, avoidance of tasks, poor handwriting, dislikes gym?

N.B  Most children in their early school years will demonstrate one (or more) of these areas of difficulty but this does not mean they all have DCD!  Children with DCD will present with many of the difficulties above for a prolonged period.