What is DCD?

DCD is common: Clinicians may see children with DCD without knowing it!

Coordination difficulties are the most characteristic feature of DCD.
Children with DCD are frequently described by their parents and teachers as being "clumsy" or "awkward". They have difficulty mastering simple motor activities compared to other children their age, such as climbing stairs or playing ball games, and are unable to perform age-appropriate academic and self-care tasks. Some children may experience difficulties in a variety of areas while others may have problems only with specific activities.
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is the internationally recommended term for this condition; however, terms such as developmental dyspraxia may still be used
  • DCD affects 5-6% of school-aged children, or approximately 1-2 students in every classroom
  • DCD is a neurodevelopmental disorder (DSM-IV), but the areas of the brain contributing to the motor difficulties are not yet known with certainty

These videos illustrate a typically-developing child and a child with DCD

Question for Reflection
Why are more boys than girls identified with DCD?
Click here for some thoughts on this question
Why are more boys than girls identified with DCD?

Although twice as many boys as girls are typically identified with DCD, the reasons for this remain unclear. In fact, there are several factors that influence the identification process and the DCD gender prevalence. Educators tend to identify greater numbers of boys. However, in recent population studies, more equal numbers of boys and girls have been identified. In addition, the expectations of educators and parents regarding the typical rate of attainment of fine or gross motor skills in boys and girls may play a role. Finally, boys and girls are known to adopt different behaviours in response to their coordination difficulties. Girls who may be more withdrawn may be less likely to be noticed in a classroom setting.

So what about Max?
Max’s parents have consulted with various health care professionals to find out why their child is clumsy, struggles with ball games, has poor balance, and has not yet learned to ride his bicycle. So far, no diagnosis has been made. Like Max, most of the children with coordination difficulties that you will see do not have a formal diagnosis of DCD.