Healthcare Professionals

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), commonly known as Dyspraxia, is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects 5 to 6% of the population and is characterized by difficulty with fine and/or gross motor skills (Blank et al., 2019).

Many healthcare professionals are unaware of the signs and symptoms of Dyspraxia/DCD; consequently, many individuals are left undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and unsupported. Early diagnosis and treatment are important and can make a vital difference in quality of life.

Signs & Symptoms Dyspraxia/DCD

Movement, coordination and motor planning are the main symptoms of Dyspraxia/DCD, but struggles in other areas may also be involved. Symptoms range from mild to severe and vary widely from one individual to another, and for the same individual from one day to the next.

Difficulties of Living with Dyspraxia/DCD

Dyspraxia/DCD does not affect intelligence, but it can affect the ability to keep up in school and make learning more challenging compared to peers. Difficulty making friends, depression and anxiety may result from the frustration, embarrassment, and stigma of struggling to keep up with peers. These difficulties often continue into adulthood and present challenges with daily life at home and at work.

Diagnosis of Dyspraxia/DCD

Timely diagnosis and effective treatment may mitigate many of the negative consequences of living with this hidden condition. Research has shown that the most effective approaches used by OTs and PTs for improving motor skills are individualized, task-oriented methods such as the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP) and Neuromotor Task Training (NTT) (Blank et al., 2019).

Diagnostic Criteria for Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and Developmental Dyspraxia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 11th Edition (ICD-11) both classify the condition as a neurodevelopmental disorder.
High-level diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5 and the ICD-11 are provided below:

A. Motor skills are substantially below age expectations.

B. Motor skill deficits significantly interfere with daily life.

C. Onset of symptoms in early developmental period.

D. Motor skill deficits are not better explained by other medical conditions.

Reprinted with permission from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, (Copyright 2013). American Psychiatric Association.

Diagnostic Requirements

  • Significant delay in the acquisition of gross or fine motor skills and impairment in the execution of coordinated motor skills manifesting as clumsiness, slowness, or inaccuracy of motor performance.
  • Coordinated motor skills are markedly below that expected on the basis of age.
  • Onset of coordinated motor skill difficulties occurs during the developmental period and is typically apparent from early childhood.
  • Coordinated motor skill difficulties cause significant and persistent limitations in activities of daily living, school, work, vocation and leisure activities, or other important areas of functioning.
  • Difficulties with coordinated motor skills are not better accounted for by a Disease of the Nervous System Disease of the Musculoskeletal System or Connective Tissue, sensory impairment, or a Disorder of Intellectual Development.

World Health Organization (2019). 6A04 Developmental motor coordination disorder. In International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems (11th ed.).

The following links to the full description and diagnostic criteria from the ICD-11:
ICD 11 Code 6A04 Developmental Motor Coordination Disorder


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Developmental Coordination Disorder. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

Blank, R., Barnett, A. L., Cairney, J., Green, D., Kirby, A., Polatajko, H., Rosenblum, S., Smits-Engelsman, B., Sugden, D., Wilson, P., & Vinçon, S. (2019). International clinical practice recommendations on the definition, diagnosis, assessment, intervention, and psychosocial aspects of developmental coordination disorder. Developmental medicine and child neurology, 61(3), 242–285. https://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.14132

World Health Organization. (2019). 6A04 Developmental Motor Coordination Disorder. In International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems (11th ed.). https://icd.who.int/browse11/l-m/en#/http://id.who.int/icd/entity/148247104

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