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Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), formerly called Dyspraxia, is an impairment or immaturity of movement. Associated with this, there may be problems of language, perception and thought.

Variations of DCD affect approximately 7% of the population, with 70% of those affected being boys.

The following checklist can be used as initial indicators to help determine next steps.

Main indicators

Pre-school child 

  • late to reach milestones, for example, rolling and crawling
  • may not be able to hop, jump or skip
  • has difficulty walking up and down stairs
  • often bumps into things or trips up easily
  • slow to learn to speak or speech may be incoherent
  • sleeping difficulties

Lower to mid-primary

  • general co-ordination difficulties
  • difficulties in PE, for example, throwing/catching a ball
  • handwriting can be poor with poor pencil control
  • immature drawing skill and poor copying skills
  • literal use of language
  • difficulty following instructions
  • slow pace of work
  • work often not completed
  • fidgets and constantly restless
  • may have difficulty in forming relationships with other children
  • often show signs of frustration
  • poor spatial and body awareness
  • upper primary and secondary
  • poor organisational skills, for example, following a timetable or directions
  • handwriting may be more problematic with copying slow and inaccurate
  • social isolation
  • PE is avoided
  • more extreme behavioural difficulties
  • can be preoccupied with topics or subjects


Teachers and classroom assistants can help by:

  • giving clear unambiguous instructions and checking the child’s understanding
  • making sure that the child’s seating allows him to rest both feet on the floor, with the desk at elbow height
  • positioning the child where he has a clear view of the teacher, the board and with minimal distractions
  • limiting the amount of handwriting or offer an alternative way to record
  • breaking down activities into small manageable steps
  • limiting the amount of copying from the board
  • allowing extra time to finish work
  • teaching the pupil strategies to help with organisation
  • being aware that growth spurts may accentuate problems
  • being sensitive to the child’s/young person’s limitations
  • encouraging a partnership with another child who can help with tricky situations

Next steps

If you feel that a child in your class may have DCD speak to your EAST teacher or ASN Co-ordinator who will investigate further. A medical referral via the family GP or school Medical Service is necessary to access a Paediatric Occupational Therapist at Rainbow House in Irvine.

Paediatric Occupational Therapists specialise in working with children and have knowledge and experience of how children develop and acquire skills.

What about the future

Whilst DCD is not curable, the child can improve in some areas with growing maturity. He or she can be helped to a large extent with the appropriate treatment and suitable leisure facilities to overcome the continuing problems which he or she will undoubtedly face.

Contact Information

East Ayrshire Support Team (EAST)
Crosshouse Campus
Playingfield Road
01563 554974