Signs and Symptoms of DCD

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A general overview of the signs, symptoms and characteristics of DCD that children may experience

June 22, 2016, Chanel Tuffley

DCD is diagnosed in children where there are no symptoms of a recognisable neurological impairment. Some of the early signs/symptoms of DCD is seen with developmental delays (Cairney, 2015), where children aren’t reaching their expected milestones. Some of these include, swallowing, rolling over, sitting, crawling and even delay in walking. These can be difficult for a child with DCD to learn and master.

As children get older, signs of DCD in older children include difficulties in learning how to handle cutlery when feeding themself and also experience difficulty joining in with play where coordination is needed. Examples of this could be stacking blocks or using fine motor skills to pick up small objects.

As stated earlier in this blog, it is easier to observe signs of DCD in school-aged children. At this age, they potentially experience some difficulty in gross-motor activities such as ball skills (throwing, catching and kicking) and find it hard to join in with group games that involve jumping, running and hopping. Use of fine-motor skills is also troubling for a child with DCD. Activities they may struggle at in this area are tasks like writing and drawing (they appear not age-appropriate), using scissors correctly and being able to hold them properly, tying their shoelaces, and fastening buttons and zips are also difficult. Other tasks such as dressing and negotiating stairs are also potentially challenging for children with DCD (Blyth, 2015).

I feel that it is important to note here that a child that appears to be awkward and clumsy does not necessarily mean that they have a diagnosis of DCD. Clumsiness in children can be a normal part of their childhood.


Blyth, S (2015). Boosting learning in the primary classroom: Occupational therapy strategies that really work with pupils. New York:Routledge Taylor and Francis group.

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