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Developmental co-ordination disorder

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is:

“a condition where pupils of average or above average ability show significant motor impairment, including motor skill delay and difficulty learning new motor skills where there is no other medical explanation. These motor problems impact on ability to perform everyday self-care, leisure and academic activities.” (DSM 5, 2013)

The child or young person may have difficulty with:

  • gross and fine motor skills
  • spatial awareness
  • organisational skills
  • over reliance on vision to guide motor behaviour
  • poor core stability
  • balance
  • excessive fidgeting
  • gross and fine motor planning
  • visual perception.

DCD, previously know as Dyspraxia, can present in many different ways. Children or young people may experience difficulties in a number of different areas or may have problems with very specific tasks. Learning new skills may be particularly challenging and the child or young person may struggle to plan and organise tasks.

The characteristics of DCD are usually noticed first by those closest to the child or young person. Motor difficulties interfere with academic achievement. Difficulties may also be noticed in dressing, playground skills, handwriting or gym activities.

DCD cannot be cured, but as children and young people develop and mature in many cases they can learn to manage their difficulties.


A diagnosis occurs when it is known :

1) that the movement problems are not due to any other known physical, neurological, or behavioural disorders; and, 2) whether more than one disorder may be present.

Sometimes children and young people with another known condition, e.g Autism, ADHD, also receive a dual diagnosis of DCD. This happens if there are motor coordination difficulties which have a significant impact on their ability to take part in day to day tasks.

Further information

Last updated 6 August 2021

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