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Developmental Coordination Disorder

About DCD

Developmental coordination disorder, or DCD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that effects around 5-6% of children (Ip et al., 2021). DCD makes it challenging for children to learn and coordinate movements, significantly impacting their ability to engage in many meaningful activities.  


The types of movements we use every day are often broken into two categories:  

  • Fine Motor Movements: Fine motor movements include small, precise movements like writing, tying shoes, or manipulating small objects 

  • Gross Motor Movements: Gross motor movements are big, full body movements like walking, running, jumping, skipping, or climbing the stairs.  


Children with DCD may have difficulties with fine and/or gross motor activities, making it difficult for them to complete activities during their daily life. 




DCD is typically diagnosed at age 5 or later. Several health professionals may be involved in the identification of DCD. The diagnosis of DCD is made by a physician since it is necessary that medical causes of the child's difficulties may be ruled in or out. Occupational therapists frequently complete the assessment of motor functioning and the impact on activities of daily living (a physician may also do this if they have the tools to do so). After diagnosis of DCD, children typically would also see a psychologist to assess for other neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., ADHD) as there is a high co-occurrence (Blank et al., 2019). 

When evaluating motor development, occupational therapists frequently use assessment tools such as the Movement Assessment Battery for Children or the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency. Other tools such as the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure may be helpful in identifying the impact on activities of daily living and for determining specific goals the child and their family may have (Blank et al., 2019)



Occupational therapists can help children with DCD learn motor tasks necessary for their activities of daily living. Task-specific approaches such as the Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance (CO-OP) or Neuromotor Task Training (NTT) approaches have been shown to be particularly helpful for improve their ability to learn and perform motor tasks. For children with DCD who struggle with handwriting, OTs can also provide specific handwriting supports.  




DCD Assessment Information Sheet & Toolkit for Pediatricians 


DCD Treatment Information Sheet 


DCD Advocacy Information Sheet 

References on this Page


Blank, R., Barnett, A.L., Cairney, J., Green, D., Kirby, A., Polatajko, H., ..., Vincon, S. (2019). International clinical practice recommendations on the definition, diagnosis, assessment, intervention, and psychosocial aspects of developmental coordination disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 61, 242-285.

Ip, A., Mickelson, E., Zwicker, J., Canadian Paediatric Society Developmental Pediatrics Section. (2021). Assessment, diagnosis, and management of developmental coordination disorder. Pediatric and Child Health, 6, 366-374.  


Miller, L., Polatajko, H., Missiuna, C., Mandich, A, Macnab, J. (2001). A pilot trial of a cognitive treatment for children with developmental coordination disorder. Human Movement Science, 20(1-2), 183-210. 

Niemeijer, A., Smits-Engelsman, B., & Schoemaker, M. (2007). Neuromotor task training for children with development coordination disorder: A controlled trial. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 49(6), 406-411. 

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