What is Dyspraxia / Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?
Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are diagnoses given by a doctor (usually a paediatrician) but they are often based on the specialist assessments carried out by an occupational therapist.
Diagnosis is given based on assessment of motor and functional skills. DCD relates to a lack of fluid, controlled and coordinated movement often causing difficulties with day-to-day activities such as movement, sports or dressing.
The brain of a child with Dyspraxia does not process information in the way that allows the full transmission of neural messages. A child with DCD or Dyspraxia will find it hard to plan what to do and how to do it.
How would I tell if my child has Dyspraxia / DCD?
Children with DCD / Dyspraxia may typically present as clumsy or uncoordinated and will be behind their peers in terms of motor development. They may find day-to-day tasks difficult and may have frequent bruises from falls or trips.
Some other common signs that a child may have Developmental Co-ordination Disorder include:
- Slow development of skills for eating foods with mixed textures, sticking to soft or melt-able foods
- Slow development of functional skills with dressing, grooming or hygiene
- Slow development of skills for eating, such as using cutlery, drinking from an open cup or sucking through a straw
- Slow development of fine manipulative skills (picking up, holding or manipulating objects) which may mean that they drop or break things frequently
- Difficulty in coordinating the use of two hands together, for throwing and catching for instance
- Lack of coordination of gross motor skills for hopping, jumping, skipping, running and climbing
- Poor handwriting is one of the most common symptoms of Dyspraxia / DCD.
- Slow development of skills for complex tasks like swimming, riding a bike or scooter
- Slow development of skills in using tools such as a pencil, scissors or ruler
- Problems in school relating to completing work or in physical education
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help overcome common difficulties associated with Dyspraxia, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can an occupational therapist help my child with Dyspraxia?
All children develop motor skills at different speeds and there are standardised assessments which an occupational therapist can use to compare a child's motor skills against their peers. Children who are assessed as having motor skills below a certain level, and in the absence of other developmental difficulties, may be diagnosed as having Dyspraxia or DCD.
Our paediatric occupational therapists have specialist skills to assess and work with children who have symptoms of DCD. They will work with you and your child to identify which areas of everyday life are proving difficult and provide techniques and strategies to manage and improve these.
This can range from intensive one-to-one treatment focussing on specific skill development such as handwriting or climbing, to advice and strategies that teachers can implement easily within a classroom setting to improve the academic achievement and success for your child.