Monday, 25th October 2021

Specific Learning Difficulties - Development Co-ordination Disorder

Over the years motor and co-ordination difficulties has been referred to using many different terms: motor learning difficulties, minimal brain dysfunction, dyspraxia and latterly Developmental Co-ordination Disorder.

This is now the world- wide recognised term to describe children and adults with lifelong co-ordination difficulties in which ‘the marked impairment has a negative impact on the activities of daily living and academic achievement (DSMIV- diagnostic and statistical manual). DSMIV also states that the level of motor co-ordination is substantially below that expected given the persons chronological age and measured intelligence and is not due to a medical condition such as Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy etc.

Research indicates DCD can affect anywhere between 3-10% of the population. In realistic terms this means there is at least one child in every classroom with significant DCD.


This term is often used interchangeably with DCD mainly in the UK and this can be confusing to both parents and professionals. It is a very specific condition in its own right.  Dys=difficulty with   Praxis= doing, acting. Dyspraxia is an ‘impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It affects the forming of the idea of what an activity is (ideation), the subconscious planning of what to do and how to carry the activity out fluently (execution of the task). There may be associated problems with language, perception and thought.

Young people will present with varying levels of co-ordination difficulty in the following areas of function

  • Self- care (dressing, washing, toileting, personal organisation)
  • Writing
  • Play
  • Sport/recreation

They may also have difficulty with

  • Attention/concentration
  • Confidence/self esteem
  • Sensory processing (see link)
  • Specific learning issues (see link)

What can you do?

It is useful to be referred to an Occupational Therapist, if there is one in your area that provides intervention for these difficulties. They will assess the motor skills difficulties to see what impact they are having on your child’s day to day function. They may provide one of the following

  • Advice to school/home
  • Specific programmes- writing, self- care, leisure/sports skills
  • Links with community groups
  • Specific equipment advice

Motorvate Therapies provides a full range of services for young people with motor/co-ordination difficulties

Useful links


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Perth PH28DG

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