How do I know if my child might have DCD?
Delays in reaching normal developmental milestones could be a sign of DCD. For example, your child may take slightly longer than expected to roll over, sit, crawl or walk.
You may also notice that your child shows unusual body positions (postures) during their first year.
Although these may come and go, they also:
- have difficulty playing with toys that involve good co-ordination – such as stacking bricks
- may have some difficulties learning to eat with cutlery
Children may have difficulties:
- with playground activities such as hopping, jumping, running, and catching or kicking a ball – they often avoid joining in because of their lack of co-ordination and may find physical education difficult
- walking up and down stairs
- writing, drawing and using scissors – their handwriting and drawings may appear scribbled and more childish than other children their age
- getting dressed, doing up buttons and tying shoelaces
- keeping still – they may swing or move their arms and legs a lot
A child with DCD may appear awkward and clumsy as they may bump into objects, drop things and fall over a lot.
As well as difficulties related to movement and co-ordination, children with DCD can also have a range of other problems, such as:
- difficulty concentrating: they may have a poor attention span and find it difficult to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes;
- difficulty following instructions and copying down information: they may do better at school in a one-to-one situation than in a group, as they're able to be guided through work;
- being poor at organising themselves and getting things done;
- not automatically picking up new skills: they need encouragement and repetition to help them learn;
- difficulties making friends: they may avoid taking part in team games and may be bullied for being "different" or clumsy;
- behavioural problems: often stemming from a child's frustration with their symptoms;
- low self-esteem
But although children with DCD may have poor co-ordination and some of these additional problems, other aspects of development– for example, thinking and talking – are usually unaffected.
Getting a diagnosis
If you suspect that your child may have DCD, speak with your GP, health visitor or SENCO.
They may refer you to another specialist so that an assessment can be carried out.
You may be referred to one or more of the following:
- a paediatrician: a doctor specialising in the care of children and babies, who will usually be based in your local community (community paediatrician)
- a paediatric occupational therapist: a healthcare professional who can assess a child's functional abilities in daily living activities, such as handling cutlery and getting dressed
- a paediatric physiotherapist: a healthcare professional who can assess a child's movement (motor) skills
- a clinical psychologist or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services clinician: a healthcare professional who specialises in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions to deal with emotional problems
- an educational psychologist: a professional who assists children who are having difficulty progressing with their education as a result of emotional, psychological or behavioural factors
More help and information
The Dyspraxia Foundation has been helping parents and carers for 30 years now and has a helpline which you can call for advice on 01462 454986
Do you have a child who has DCD? If so, we want to hear your experiences so that we can help other parents and carers who are accessing this site. Please make contact by email to firstname.lastname@example.org