Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

What is it?

Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) also known as dyspraxia, is a condition affecting physical co-ordination. It affects both fine and gross motor movements. DCD causes children to perform less well than expected in daily activities for their age and appear to move clumsily.

It is thought to be around 3 or 4 times more common in boys than girls, and the condition sometimes runs in families.

How does it affect children?

Children with DCD may have delayed early developmental milestones such as crawling, walking or dressing. As they get older, they may also have delays in developing their ability to draw, write and play certain sports. Your child may struggle with dressing and learning new skills.

Every child with DCD is unique, and the presentation of DCD can vary between individuals. Therefore, a diagnosis typically occurs once a child is approximately five years old or more.

Some children with DCD will have difficulties with their speech production. If so they were be referred to as having verbal dyspraxia or childhood apraxia of speech.

What causes DCD?

Many different nerves and parts of the brain are involved in producing complex and co-ordinated movements.

Any problem in this process could potentially lead to difficulties with movement and co-ordination. It’s not usually clear why a child with DCD’s co-ordination skills do not develop as well as other children.

However, several risk factors that can increase a child’s likelihood of developing DCD have been identified.

These include:

  • Being born prematurely, before the 37th week of pregnancy.
  • Being born with a low birth weight.
  • Having a family history of DCD, although it is not clear exactly which genes may be involved in the condition.
  • The mother drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs while pregnant.

Non-urgent advice: Learn more

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The physiotherapy team work closely with the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to deliver a cycling course for children who are experiencing difficulties learning to ride a bike. For more information please email:

Page last reviewed: 23 May, 2024