Developmental Coordination Disorder

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual – fifth edition (DSM-5) identifies DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) as a deficit with motor coordination, that address all four of the following criteria; 

  1. The acquisition and execution of coordinated motor skills is substantially below that expected given the individual’s chronological age and opportunity for skill learning and use. Difficulties are manifested as clumsiness (e.g., dropping or bumping into objects) as well as slowness and inaccuracy of performance of motor skills (e.g., catching and object, using scissors or cutlery, handwriting, riding a bike, or participating in sports). 
  2. The motor skills deficit in Criterion A significantly and persistently interferes with activities, leisure, and play. 

  3. Onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period. 

  4. The motor skills deficits are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual development disorder) or visual impairment and are not attributable to a neurological condition affecting movement (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disorder).  

The above mentioned deficits are components of the previously recognised disorder, Dyspraxia. The word Dyspraxia comes from the Greek words ‘dys’ meaning “difficulty with” and ‘praxis’ meaning “acting or doing”.  


Clumsiness - Difficulties throwing or catching a ball 
Poor body awareness - Has trouble dressing or feeding themselves 
Poor sense of direction  - Cannot hold a pen or pencil properly 
Writing difficulties  - Has difficulty brushing hair and teeth 
Poor posture  - Confused about which hand to use 
Walks awkwardly  - Cannot hop, skip or ride a bike 
Often trips over  - Find some clothes uncomfortable 


Not all of the previously mentioned characteristics will apply to every person with Developmental Coordination Disorder and many of these problems can be overcome in time. Each person is affected in different ways and to different degrees. 


Assessments and diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder can be made by a range of professionals, including an Educational Psychologist, an Occupational Therapist or a Developmental Paediatrician.