Dyspraxia-Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)

What is Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?

There are many terms used to describe coordination difficulties including: developmental coordination disorder (DCD); dyspraxia; sensory integration dysfunction; motor learning difficulty; perceptual-motor dysfunction; and clumsy child syndrome. They all describe a child who has problems carrying out daily activities due to poor coordination or movement skills. The child may also have problems with language, writing and organising their thoughts. Attention span and memory is often a difficulty.

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is the most recent and preferred term to describe this group of children. It is characterised by a marked impairment in the performance of motor skills. This has a significant impact on activities of daily living, such as dressing, riding a bicycle, and/or academic performance, such as poor handwriting.

Dyspraxia is defined by the Dyspraxia Foundation as an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. There may be associated problems with language, perception and thought. This term is commonly used by parents and teachers in UK.

Dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder is surprisingly common in both children and adults, about 6% of the population are affected, with at least twice as many boys being affected than girls. It is a hidden condition which is often poorly understood. It usually continues throughout school years and there is evidence to show that without intervention, these difficulties continue into adulthood.

Children with dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder may present with some of the following difficulties:

  • Slow to reach milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking and speaking
  • Poor motor skills compared to their peers eg running, hopping, catching a ball
  • Falls over frequently or bumps into objects
  • Difficulty riding a bicycle
  • Dislikes PE and games
  • Messy eater or struggles to use a knife and fork together
  • Difficulty with handwriting or using scissors
  • Problems with getting dressed or learning to tie shoelaces
  • Difficulty copying from a book or blackboard
  • Problems with maths and writing stories
  • Unable to remember and follow instructions
  • Poorly organised
  • Poor concentration and easily distracted
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Problems sitting still or always on the move
  • Dislikes some sensations such as loud noises, labels in clothing, messy play, hair washing and cutting.

Although there is not a cure for dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder, research has shown that the earlier intervention can begin, the better the outcome for the child. Children will often improve dramatically with the appropriate treatment.

Assessment of your child

Once commissioned we will carry out a comprehensive assessment in order to identify the extent and nature of your child’s difficulties. We will use a combination of standardised and observational assessments to identify specific areas of difficulty in relation to motor coordination, sensory processing and visual perception. We will select those assessments that we feel are most appropriate for your child, following discussion with you at the initial consultation. Following the assessment we will arrange a feedback appointment to discuss the results, offer you advice and recommend therapy options that may be appropriate.

Please contact us if you would like any further details.

Therapy for Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

There are a number of different treatment approaches available to use when working with a child with developmental coordination disorder, some of which are sensory integration, sensory motor approaches, cognitive motor approaches and functional approaches. It is common to often use a combination of approaches when working with a particular child. The intervention will be child-centred and planned around the needs of your child and the goals they want to achieve. Perhaps most importantly therapy will be fun.

Therapy may involve one or more of the following options:

  • Consultation with parents and teachers
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Exercise programmes for home and/or school
  • Environmental modifications
  • Providing awareness training at your child’s school

Useful links for information on Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Visit our links and resources page for further information on Dyspraxia/DCD.

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