What is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

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A brief explanation of what developmental coordination disorder is, it's main characteristics and the complications children may experience

June 15, 2016, Chanel Tuffley

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) also known as dyspraxia, is known as “a chronic and usually permanent condition found in children” (Barnhart, Davenport, Epps & Nordquist, 2003). DCD has been used to describe the condition of children with motor incoordination that has a significant impact on a child’s achievement at school and their activities of daily living. Messages sent from the brain are not interpreted by the body correctly. Research has found that 5-8% of children aged 4-11 have a diagnosis of DCD. This is 1 out of 10 children in this age group (Cairney, 2015). This is a lifelong disorder that does not resolve in adulthood, however with the help of early intervention there can be a positive outcome.

A child with DCD demonstrates difficulty in both performing and learning everyday activities at their home, school and in the playground/other play environments (Cermak & Larkin, 2002). DCD can be difficult to recognise in a child early on, but is picked up on once they start school. This is due to a child’s impairment becoming more noticeable as it becomes a struggle to reach academic levels and become involved in sports and games with the other children.

It is interesting for me to see that there is a potential diagnosis for a child who is seen as the class trouble maker, clumsy uncoordinated and lazy. It amazed me to discover that 1 out of 10 children experience this disorder, and that it is most commonly diagnosed in boys. Reflecting back on my placement in Child Development Service, I actually realised that every single child I saw with this diagnosis was a young boy.

Below are links to some videos telling you more information about DCD:


Barnhart, R.C., Davenport, M.J, Epps, B., & Nordquist, V.M. (2003). Developmental coordination disorder. Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association. 83(8). 722-731.

Cairney (2015). Developmental coordination disorder and it’s consequences. USA: University of Toronto Press.

Cermak, S.A., & Larkin, D. (2002). Developmental Coordination Disorder. Canada: Delmor Thomoson Learning.