Kids OT logo

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) is an umbrella term encompassing several presentations of co-ordination disorders such as dyspraxia.

DCD / Dyspraxia affects the child’s ability to plan and carry out and actions and movements as messages from the brain are not properly transmitted. This affects a child’s ability to learn new skills and affects many aspects of the child’s day to day life, including their:

Planning and organisation skills – organising themselves and their belongings can be an area of significant difficulty and often results in the child loosing objects, appearing dishevelled, not having the appropriate books / equipment for lessons and arriving late for class etc.

Visual perceptual skills – accurately copying information can be a difficulty, as can keeping track of where they are on a page when reading, finding objects within a full bag, pencil case or cupboard etc). Visual perception not only affects a child’s ability to perform academic tasks but can cause difficulties with judging speed and distances of cars when crossing a road,  and can affect a child’s performance in physical activities requiring spatial awareness etc.

Handwriting is often messy, with either too much or not enough spacing between letters and words. Children with co-ordination difficulties often have difficulties positioning letters on the line or forming letters of appropriate heights (for example an ‘e’ might be much bigger than a ‘h’), and will often apply too much pressure through the pen /pencil, causing their hand to tire quickly. Other difficulties may include getting their thoughts onto paper which often leads to work being slow to produce and of limited length.

Personal care tasks are often tricky for children with co-ordination disorders and can result in the child experiencing difficulties cleaning themselves thoroughly after toileting as they have poor body awareness. They may also need additional prompts to perform self care tasks such as brushing their hair or their teeth etc.

Dressing skills – learning to fasten buttons, zips and shoelaces can often be problematic, as can organising clothes and getting them on in the right way i.e. putting a jumper on back to front, or shoes on the wrong feet etc.

Cutlery skills – using a knife and fork to cut up and eat food is often a tricky and messy task for children who have co-ordination difficulties.

Organisation of thought and movement – planning and learning new movements can be extremely difficult for children with a co-ordination disorder.

‘Clumsiness’ – DCD was originally termed ‘clumsy child syndrom’e  as behaviours such as tripping, falling, and bumping into objects or furniture are common place in children who have a co-ordination disorder. This may be due to difficulties with spatial awareness, planning, body awareness etc.

Concentration / attention – difficulties with the processing of  sensory information from the environment can lead to children with DCD being very distractible and fidgety, or having poor attention / concentration. Sensory processing difficulties can occur with one or many types of stimuli, so for example a difficulty in processing oral stimuli may result  in difficulties tolerating various tastes or textures,. Similarly, a child who has difficulties with auditory stimuli may be unable to cope with loud noises and may be observed to cover their ears in loud environments, or may become distressed by sudden, unexpected noises such as an alarm going off.


Statistically, at least 1 in 30 children have DCD / Dyspraxia.


DCD Assessment

A DCD / Dyspraxia assessment takes place over two sessions and a comprehensive assessment of the following skills is undertaken:

Visual Perceptual Skills


Gross Motor Skills

Sensory Processing

Cutlery Skills – If this is an area of difficulty for your child, we are able to look at this and may be able to recommend specialist cutlery to help your child overcome their difficulties.

Additional information surrounding your child’s ability to perform everyday tasks will also be gathered through feedback from parents, school and the child. This is important as it provided a wider picture of your child’s abilities and difficulties.

28th January 2011 | Karen |