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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

What is DCD?

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common disorder affecting movement and coordination. DCD causes a delay in learning new activities. People with DCD may perform less well in daily activities and education.

DCD is a life-long condition and symptoms will have first been noticed in early childhood. Providing early help and support can reduce the impact of these difficulties on a child’s well-being and help them join in more easily with their peers.

DCD may exist on its own but frequently occurs with other conditions such as autism, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorders.

DCD is also known as dyspraxia in the UK.

What causes DCD?

There is no simple answer to this question and the root cause is unknown. Carrying out coordinated movements is a complex process that involves many different neurological pathways and parts of the brain. A problem in any part of this process could potentially lead to difficulties with movement and coordination. It is unlikely that there is a single factor to explain the coordination problems experienced by people with DCD.

How does DCD impact a child?

A child with DCD may have some of these characteristics or difficulties with the following.

Gross motor skills:

  • clumsiness or awkward movements
  • sports and playground
  • learning new motor skills, such as bike-riding and swimming
  • balancing, throwing and catching skills
  • sitting on a chair

Fine motor skills:

  • handwriting and copying from a whiteboard or book
  • everyday tasks (such as washing, feeding and dressing)


  • organising themselves and their belongings
  • finishing schoolwork on time
  • forgetfulness

Social and emotional:

  • easily frustrated and gives up easily
  • making and keeping friends
  • last to be chosen for teams
  • fatigue

How can I help my child?

There are many ways that you can help your child such as:

  • help them understand their newly given diagnosis
  • help them to organise their morning and evening routines
  • ensure enough time is given for tasks so the child does not feel rushed
  • provide opportunities for them to develop their motor skills such as playing at the park, arts and crafts at home

How can the DCD team help my child?

The therapy team will work with your child to identify what is important to them and support your child to build the skills to make them more independent and confident.

With the right support, a child with DCD can reach their full potential. Support is available in many ways:

Independence skills videos
  • face to face sessions. These will include individualised support to develop independence and motor skills such as learning to use cutlery, dressing, develop handwriting, exercise programmes and bike skills
  • advice, advocacy and support to parents and school

Further information:

Developmental Co-ordination Disorders (DCD)

DCD website

Can Child

Can child

Workshop to learn more about DCD

Workshops to learn more about DCD

DCD – What does it mean to me?

DCD What does it mean to me

Dyspraxia Foundation

Dyspraxia Foundation
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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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