What is dyspraxia

The term ‘dyspraxia’ is used in many different ways by different people, which can cause some confusion. Some use it interchangeably with DCD to mean the same thing. Others use it to refer to something very different. Unlike DCD, there is no internationally agreed formal definition or description of the term ‘dyspraxia’ and it is not included in DSM-5. Despite this, in the UK the term ‘dyspraxia’ is sometimes used in a vast way to refer to children who have motor difficulties plus difficulties with: speech, organisation, planning, sequencing, working memory and various other psychological, emotional and social problems. However, there is very little research evidence to support such a broad diagnostic category.

At what age should a diagnosis of DCD be given?

It is not recommended for a formal diagnosis of DCD to be given before a child is five years of age. The reason being that there is a lot of change in children’s development before this age and also variations in the opportunities children have to experience motor skill. However, this does not mean that a child who appears to be delayed in their motor skills before the age of five should not be closely monitored, or some form of intervention given. The child can be informally noted as having movement difficulties and the right actions taken to support the child’s needs.

Developmental coordination disorder (also known as dyspraxia)

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common developmental disorder that is diagnosed when an individual has severe difficulties in learning everyday motor skills, which cannot be explained by physical, sensory or intellectual impairment. Motor difficulties are seen as clumsiness, as well as slowed and inaccurate performance of motor skills. These affect all activities including dressing, using utensils and ball skills. Academic performance is also affected by the motor difficulties and these difficulties may be seen to be mild, moderate or severe.

Who can diagnose developmental coordination disorder?

A diagnosis of DCD is usually undertaken by a number of different professionals as a part of an interdisciplinary team, after collecting information from the child, parents, and school to see how the difficulties impact on everyday life. You might need to approach your GP for a referral to an interdisciplinary team. That team would consider the information about your child’s coordination and conduct a formal, standardised assessment looking at your child’s co-ordination. Throughout this process they would also rule out any other reasons for your child’s motor difficulties (for example cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy).