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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Sensory stimulation in infants, fine mot

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?


Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a term used to describe

children who demonstrate substantial difficulty in coordinating movements

such as those needed to climb the playground, catch balls, complete

handwriting tasks or get dressed. As a result these movement difficulties

interfere with a child’s ability to perform everyday tasks and have an impact

on academic achievement. Children described using the term DCD cannot

have their difficulties with movement explained by a general medical condition

(Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia or Muscular Dystrophy) and the criteria are not

met for Pervasive Developmental Disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).


What are the common features of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?


Children with DCD may experience difficulties in a variety of areas, while others may only have difficulties in specific areas.

  • Clumsy or awkward in movements compared to friends of similar age (e.g. running awkwardly or holding scissors awkwardly).

  • Poor body awareness: Trouble determining the distance between themselves and objects and hence bumping into objects or knocking things over and invading other people’s personal space without recognizing this.

  • Difficulty with or delayed in developing gross motor (physical) skills (e.g. running, jumping, hopping, catching balls, climbing), fine motor skills (e.g. handwriting, doing up buttons, threading beads, tying shoe laces), or both.

  • Movement planning difficulties: Difficulty planning physical movements into a controlled sequence to complete a task, or difficulty remembering the next movement in a sequence despite being shown or told how.

  • Movement learning difficulties: Difficulty learning new movement skills and once learned in one environment (e.g. school) may continue to have difficulty performing the task in another environment (e.g. home). Consequently, the child needs to be taught the task again in each new environment.

  • Difficulty with activities that require the coordinated use of both sides of the body (e.g. cutting with scissors, running, swinging a bat).

  • Reduced balance and postural control (e.g. unsteady when stepping over a height or when standing while dressing).

  • Reduced strength and endurance, requiring significantly more effort to complete the same task as their friends, resulting in rapid fatigue.

  • Rushing through tasks as completing them slowly is difficult due to reduced control or balance.

  • Difficulty with printing or handwriting.


Why should I seek therapy for my child with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?


Diagnosis alone is NOT the solution. It simply opens the doorto getting the help that is needed by arming all involved withthe relevant information. 


If your child has delays in language, it is recommended that you consult a Speech Language Pathology specializing in Early Intervention to receive an evaluation to see if they require therapeutic intervention. 

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