Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. They may also have difficulties with speech, organisation, planning, sequencing, working memory and various other psychological, emotional and social problems.
Many of these difficulties will continue onto adulthood while they also struggle with learning new skills such as driving a car and DIY at home, in education and work. There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties such as social emotional difficulties, challenges with planning and organisation, as well as problems with time management, all of which may impact an adult’s education or employment experience.
The child with Dyspraxia/DCD may have a combination of several problems in varying degrees. These include:
- Poor balance
- Poor fine and gross motor co-ordination
- Poor posture
- Difficulty with throwing and catching a ball
- Poor awareness of body position in space
- Poor sense of direction
- Difficulty in hopping, skipping or riding a bike
- Sensitive to touch
- Confused about which hand to use
- Intolerance of having hair or teeth brushed, nails and hair cut
- Slow to learn to dress or feed themselves
- Find some clothes uncomfortable
- Difficulty with reading, writing
- Speech problems – slow to learn to speak and speech may be incoherent.
- Phobias or obsessive behaviour and impatient
Children with Dyspraxia/DCD can be of average or above average intelligence but are often behaviourally immature. They may try hard to fit in to socially accepted behaviour when at school but often throw tantrums when at home. They may find it difficult to understand logic and reason.
Not all children with Dyspraxia/DCD have all these problems. Many parents will say that their children have some of these problems, but if your child has dyspraxia, either diagnosed or not, you may have observed a cluster of these difficulties.
There is no cure for Dyspraxia/DCD, but the earlier a child is treated, the greater the chance of improvement will be. A lot of the skills that we take for granted will never become automatic for children with Dyspraxia/DCD, so they will have to be taught these skills. Occupational therapists can assist these children with coping or overcoming many of the difficulties they face.
Occupational therapists are able to assess children with movement and co-ordination problems to determine the exact nature of the difficulties and how it impacts the child’s day to day life. The intervention will focus on how the child manages daily activities at home, school and play and it will work on the assumption that children develop skills as a consequence of the interaction between the child, the environment and the task. Occupational therapy for children with DCD aims at improving the child’s ability to integrate movement, sensation and organisation skills.