Developmental co-ordination disorder (or DCD for short) is the umbrella term used to describe difficulties with control, organisation and planning of posture and movement which leads to poor motor co-ordination and impaired performance in carrying out motor activities.

Dyspraxia is a term that is often used interchangeably with DCD in the UK but in fact dyspraxia is just one type of DCD and not all children with DCD have dyspraxia. Other types of DCD include perceptual motor co-ordination disorder and disorder of motor control.

DCD affects the ability to plan and organise how to move the body; perceptual motor co-ordination disorder affects the processing and interpreting of visual information and disorder of motor control is largely due to postural instability (weakness) which affects the ability to co-ordinate muscles to work together to maintain a position or posture.

All the disorders affect the ability to carry out everyday motor activities in a smooth and co-ordinated way.

Motor difficulties, like attention difficulties have an extensive effect on children’s lives, affecting them at school, home and in their leisure activities.

Children with DCD may have problems with their gross motor skills (movement or co-ordination of their arms and legs, posture and balance) or their fine motor skills (hand skills and manual dexterity) or both.

Gross motor difficulties include

  • Difficulties riding a bike, catching or throwing a ball
  • Difficulties with hopping and skipping
  • Repeated trips and falls
  • Awkward running and balance problems
  • Bumping into people/things, knocking things over (clumsiness)

Fine motor difficulties include

  • Poor pencil control leading to difficulties with drawing/writing
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Doing up buttons and zips
  • Using a knife and fork together
  • Tying shoelaces

Children with DCD may also have difficulties interacting with others, poor attention and organisation skills, poor time management skills and sensory processing difficulties.  They are often frustrated and frequently develop low self esteem.

The following can help your child manage DCD:

  • home and school activities to help your child practice and learn skills they find difficult
  • over-practice of skills to help with consolidation
  • helping your child to develop coping strategies
  • modifying the activity/environment e.g. providing pencil grips or for older children a laptop to enable them to record their work on computer
  • maintaining your child’s self esteem
  • ensuring there is understanding and support from your child’s educational placement

The following resources below can be really helpful to gain more knowledge and understanding around DCD as well as useful management strategies to try with your child;