Dyspraxia and DCD: An Overview

By Warren Fried

AT A GLANCE

Dyspraxia and DCD are disorders that impact motor development Those with DCD can have the condition alone or in conjunction with other neurological impairments Dyspraxia always involves a variety of other concerns


Dyspraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are neurological disorders impacting up to 10% of the population. With DCD, dexterity and coordination (fine and gross motor development) are impaired. With Dyspraxia there may be additional concerns including problems with eye movement (ocular motor), memory, judgment, processing and function, sensory issues, and language and/or speech.

As of now, little is known about the underlying causes of these conditions. What we do know is that in both DCD and dyspraxia neural development is impaired, which results in message errors between the brain and the body. What causes the impairment has yet to be discovered. (Apraxia, which shares many of the same symptoms, is acquired through head injury, damage, lesion, or stroke.)

Treatment

For those with DCD, occupational and physical therapy can help with fine and gross motor deficits. In addition, for Dyspraxia other treatments may include behavioral optometry, psychological interventions, and speech and language therapy.

Is This Your Child?
  • Constantly running into objects
  • Struggles with hand dominance
  • Immature writing skills
  • Physical activities are challenging and tiring
  • Frequent forgetting
  • Difficulty making appropriate choices
  • Slow to react and respond to the environment
  • Averse to sensory input or engages in intense sensory-seeking activities
  • Despite a large vocabulary, struggles to use words correctly orally and in writing
  • Struggles to produce words
  • Immature or over-developed immune system
Strengths

As is true of many children with learning disabilities, those with DCD and Dyspraxia often possess amazing gifts. They tend to have high verbal IQ’s, despite their struggles with organization and language structure. Attention to detail is common as they look at the world from “outside the box” and must work to make others understand their perspective. They are highly sensitive and empathetic to others; they know what it means to live with a hidden disorder that can impact all areas of life. They also tend to be driven to succeed, and have a work ethic to match their determination.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Feet swinging and tapping when seated
  • Hands clapping or twisting
  • Hands flapping when running or jumping
  • Unable to stay in one place longer than 5 minutes
  • Excitable
  • Loud and shrill voice
  • Easily distressed
  • Temper tantrums
  • Moves awkwardly
  • Constantly bumping into objects and falling
  • Difficulty pedaling tricycle
  • No sense of danger (jumps from inappropriate heights)
  • Messy eater; prefers to eat with hands
  • Spills liquid from drinking cup
  • Avoids construction toys (blocks, Legos, puzzles)

Fine Motor Skills

  • Awkward pencil grip
  • Immature writing
  • Poor scissors skills

Social Skills

  • Makes inappropriate choices
  • Struggles making friends
  • Problems with creative play
  • Prefers adult interaction 

Warren Fried is the President and Founder of Dyspraxia Foundation USA. 

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