Developmental coordination disorder

Dyspraxia, a type of developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a disability that affects affects basic motor skills (such as walking or sitting upright) and fine motor skills (such as writing or picking up small objects) in children and adults.

It is a condition that will last for life and is recognised by international organisations, including the World Health Organization. Read more about dyspraxia in adults.

Although the exact causes of dyspraxia in children are unknown, it is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body.

Dyspraxia is characterised by difficulty in planning smooth, co-ordinated movements. This leads to clumsiness and lack of co-ordination. Often, it can lead to problems with language, perception and thought.

The symptoms of dyspraxia in children are normally noticeable from an early age. The condition used to be known as clumsy child syndrome.

Who is affected?

Dyspraxia is more common in boys and sometimes runs in families. It may also occur alongside other conditions, such as:

Many children with dyspraxia also have ADHD.

It is hard to estimate exactly how many children are affected by dyspraxia. Some studies have argued around one in 50 children are affected. Others think the true figure could be as high as one in 12.

Read more about diagnosing dyspraxia in children.

Treating dyspraxia

There is no cure for dyspraxia, but a number of therapies can make it easier for the child to cope with their problems. These include:

  • speech and language therapy to improve speech and communication skills
  • occupational therapy to find ways to remain independent and complete everyday tasks

For children with mild problems, these may disappear as they grow up. However, up to nine out of 10 children with dyspraxia will continue to have difficulties as a teenager and adult.

Having dyspraxia does not change how intelligent a child is, but it does affect their learning ability. They may need extra help at school to keep up with classmates.

Read more information about how dyspraxia in children is treated.

© Crown Copyright 2009

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.