Development Coordination Disorder (DCD) is the term used to describe difficulties in the development of movement skills. Over the years the terms DCD and Dyspraxia have been used interchangeably, along with other names such as ‘clumsy child syndrome’. Currently the term DCD is the most acceptable to describe these difficulties whilst ‘dyspraxia’ is a specific difficulty in motor planning and is considered a sub-type of DCD.

Usually DCD is apparent from early childhood as a difficulty in carrying out skills that require motor co-ordination. Everyday tasks at home, at play and in the school setting are affected. Difficulties occur in the processing of information between the brain and the body which affects the child’s ability move efficiently. The extent of the processing difficulty varies greatly in severity, and makes each child a unique case.
As well as difficulties co-ordinating their movements, children with DCD may also have difficulties co-ordinating perceptions and thoughts.

Studies suggest that DCD is present in 6 in 100 children between the ages of 5 to 12 and that there is at least one child with DCD in every class at primary level in Ireland.( Dyspraxia/ DCD Association, Cork in Co-operation with DCD Unit, St Finbarrs Hospital, Cork;2003).

Problems for the child with DCD in school include:

• Challenges in self-care
• Poor spatial awareness-Bumping into items of furniture, other children, dropping things
• Low muscle tone, so there are difficulties maintaining an upright posture, and the extra effort involved may lead to real tiredness
• Activities in PE, Visual Arts, sports and play.
• Poor and untidy handwriting and drawing
• Short attention span and poor concentration
• Social difficulties
• Low self-esteem
• Typically misplace belongings or items necessary for a task
• Frustration with the constant inability to perform as they want to
• Behavioural difficulties
• Variable performance- better at a task one day, poorer the next, and always slow to perform fine-motor tasks
• Speech and Language problems (Dyspraxia is often treated in the literature under two headings- DCD and DVD[Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia]- students may present with one or the other, or a combination of the two. For DVD see section on Speech and Language )

Helpful strategies include:

• Build self esteem- when you face failure in almost all of the little things that you do in life, when people are never happy with your work, and when everyone around you seems to be able to do things or learn things quicker, it is very difficult to develop a positive self- image. When working with children with DCD, praise specifically and be honest- do not give condescending and false praise. Give positive feedback wherever possible, and reward effort instead of the end product.
• Place the child at the front of the classroom so that they can hear instruction and copy from the board more easily.
• Limit distractions for the child, and acknowledge that they may not be able to complete two tasks at once (e.g. listen to the teacher and write at the same time)
• Give extra time for the child to complete writing or fine-motor tasks
• Allow the children to practice- these children are most likely to pick up skills if given lots of time to practice and over-learn
• Use a computer for written tasks-or in general across curriculum work if necessary
• Break tasks up into smaller steps so that the student can learn and succeed in manageable steps.
• Be realistic when setting tasks and goals- defuse potential failure by setting small and manageable tasks, setting the child up for success.
• Adapt the environment to help the child- use pencil grips, tilted desks, IWBs, and ensure that furniture is the correct height and size for the child
• Children with DCD are less able to organise themselves, so provide structures and routines to help them through the day, and keep the environment and timetable as predictable as possible

Resources and References:


http://www.dyspraxiaireland.com - The Dyspraxia Association of Ireland
http://www.dyspraxiadcdcork.ie - Dyspraxia/DCD Cork website. Also available on this site to download in PDF Format are two booklets published by the Dyspraxia/DCD Association in Cork, in conjunction with the DCD Unit in St Finbarrs Hospital, Cork-
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): Practical tips for parents and
Tips for Teens and Teachers: Developmental Coordination Disorder


http://www.aoti.ie - Association of Occupational Therapists in Ireland
http://www.iasth.com - Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists
http://www.iscp.ie - Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists
http://www.buzanworld.com – website of Tony Buzan- Mind Mapping Examples, and books can be ordered directly from here.
http://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk - Sensory Integration Network, Uk and Ireland
http://www.sess.ie - (Special Education Support Service ) - use as a portal to range of sites associated with multiple disabilities including DCD/DVD.


Books can be ordered on line from:
http://www.otb.ie - Outside the Box
http://www.jkp.com - Jessica Kingsley publications
Buzan, T. (2005). The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps, London: Harper Thorsons
Dennison, P. and Dennison, G. ( ). Brain Gym: Teacher’s Ed. Revised
Edu-Kinesthetic, Inc. See http://www.braingym.com/


Sweeney, C. (2007) Good Inclusive Practice for Children With Dyspraxia/DCD in Irish Primary Schools, Dublin: EU Publishing for Dyspraxia Association of Ireland – Available from the Dyspraxia Association of Ireland, Jungheinrich, 69 Cookstown Industrial Estate, Tallaght, Dublin 24