Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia, is a condition affecting development of motor skills and coordination resulting in the child being unable to perform everyday tasks. For a child to have DCD, there will be no other diagnosis that would explain their difficulties.

Occupational therapists work with children and young people, their parents, carers, and other healthcare and education professionals to support development of skills.

Useful links

What should I look out for?

Developmental co-ordination disorder can cause a wide range of problems. Some may be noticeable at an early age, while others may only become more obvious as your child gets older.

Problems with movement and coordination are the main symptoms of DCD and children may have difficulties with:

  • Playground activities
  • Hopping
  • Jumping
  • Running and catching or kicking a ball
  • Walking up and down stairs
  • Writing and drawing and using scissors
  • Writing – their writing may always appear scribbled
  • Getting dressed and doing up buttons
  • Keeping still – they may swing or move their arms and legs more often
  • Use of cutlery

Guidance and helpful information

See the birth to five development timeline.

If you’re concerned that your child is experiencing difficulties with two or more functional activities, you should speak your GP, school SENCO or health professional about whether a referral to the occupational therapy service would be valuable.

There are tools and strategies that can be used at home to help children and young people who have difficulties which might require help from occupational therapists. You could try the toolkits below with your child over the course of a few months.


How we can help

Your child will be invited to attend an assessment appointment in clinic. Following this you would be provided with advice and strategies to work on the identified goals. An appointment for further assessments may be needed which could be clinic again or at school.

Occupational therapists cannot diagnose DCD, therefore, if the assessments indicate that your child may have DCD, you may be referred to the paediatrician for a medical assessment if your child has not already been seen by this team. Additional information regarding your child’s functional abilities may be gathered from their school.