Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a motor-based disorder that affects approximately 5% of primary-school aged children. It is also known as dyspraxia or motor-based dysgraphia. Children with DCD have difficulties learning and performing motor skills and their coordination is below expectation for their age. These difficulties may be displayed as slowness or inaccuracy in the performance of fine and/or gross motor skills which compromises performance in activities of daily living and often interferes with academic achievement. DCD may be suspected if a child is unusually clumsy and/or is showing difficulties in learning and/or performing gross or fine motor skills. Children with DCD often experience difficulties with speed and/or legibility of handwriting

that may affect their ability to express themselves in writing. DCD may therefore co-exist with a specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression, but is differentiated from it by the emphasis on the motor component of the written output rather than the content.

Developmental coordination disorder across the school years

Children with developmental coordination disorder will show some or many of the difficulties listed below.

They may not display all of these characteristics.

  • Difficulty colouring or drawing in a coordinated way
  • Difficulty holding a pencil
  • Letters are poorly formed
  • Handwriting shows poor spacing and sizing of letters and words
  • Letter forms are frequently confused
  • Difficulty completing puzzles or building with blocks
  • Difficulty buttoning clothes, doing up zippers, and tying shoelaces
  • Difficulty using rulers and scissors accurately and efficiently
  • Delays in throwing and catching, hitting and/or kicking a ball
  • Difficulty negotiating playground equipment
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Difficulties planning and prioritising tasks
  • Reduced general activity levels
  • Reduced participation in sport
  • Handwriting is immature and slow
  • Slow and inaccurate in building models
  • Difficulty playing ball games (especially in teams)
  • Difficulty organising belongings when motor sequencing and coordination are required
  • Trouble managing a full school day due to poor strength and endurance
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Difficulties planning and prioritising tasks
  • Reduced general activity levels
  • Reduced participation in sport
  • Legibility and/or speed of handwriting is poor
  • Slow and inaccurate typing
  • Difficulty taking notes accurately and efficiently
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Difficulties planning and prioritising tasks
  • Reduced general activity levels
  • Reduced participation in sport

For further information and resources please see:

The Canchild website www.canchild.ca/en/diagnoses/developmental-coordination-disorder