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Developmental Coordination Disorder

Dyspraxia or Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a diagnosis given to children who have significant impairments in motor coordination, which have significant impacts on their academic achievement and activities of daily living. DCD is not associated with any medical or mental problems.

Children may meet the diagnosis of DCD if they present with some of the following:

  • Performance in daily activities that require motor coordination is substantially below that expected, given the person’s chronological age and measured intelligence. This may be manifested by:
    • Marked delays in achieving motor milestones (e.g., walking, crawling, sitting)
    • Dropping things
    • Clumsiness
    • Poor performance in sports
    • Poor handwriting
  • When the disturbance significantly interferes with academic achievement or ADLs
  • If a learning disability is present, but the motor difficulties are in excess of those that are usually associated with it.

DCD can be diagnosed by referring a child to a paediatrician or neurologist; to rule out underlying neurological conditions, to determine the child has coordination difficulties compatible with DCD, in addition to referring to a physiotherapist if needed.


Motor control processes depend on the integrated functioning of the sensory, perceptual, cognitive and motor systems. Because of this, it is difficult to determine the location and nature of this deficiency. The evidence indicates a significantly higher risk in premature and low birth weight children, those with delayed walking after months, as well as children with abnormal neurotransmission.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapists help children with DCD improve their strength, coordination, and balance. Furthermore, they assist them with enhancing their quality of life and daily activities. Your child’s treatment plan may include:

  • increasing strength
  • improving balance
  • improving body awareness
  • improving skills through task-oriented and task-specific learning