Dyspraxia/DCD: Movement and Co-ordination Difficulties


Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder which affects approximately 1 in 6 individuals. It is defined as a difficulty in planned movement, actions and co-ordination and affects many aspects of everyday life. Early identification is therefore essential to provide help at the earliest opportunity to help individuals to achieve their full potential.

Dyspraxia is also  sometimes known as Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

Although dyspraxia can be identified within educational settings and intervention can be provided by both teachers and parents, it is recommended that a thorough diagnostic assessment is conducted by an Occupational Therapist or physiotherapist to rule out other neurophysiological disorders and ensure that appropriate support is provided.

Diagnosis of dyspraxia can only be provided following assessment by a specialist clinician. A specialist teacher can suggest the possibility of dyspraxia and should recommend a referral for assessment.

Movement and co-ordination difficulties may affect many areas of learning, a diagnosis in itself however, is not essential for obtaining extra help in the form of in-class support or access arrangements during exams. The individual profile of strengths and needs are the mitigating feature for obtaining additional support.
Identification features:

Early years:

Lateness in:

  • Developmental milestones such as learning to sit up, crawl, walk
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Hand-eye co-ordination: puzzles, holding a crayon, using a beaker
  • Developing laterality (a dominant hand)
  • Fastening buttons, tying shoe laces
  • Dressing independently
  • Feeding independently and using a knife and fork successfully
  • Using the toilet independently
  • Developing pincer grip

Primary Years:

  • Difficulties in independence persist
  • Difficulties with writing: legibility and speed
  • Messy drawing
  • Slow to undress/dress for PE
  • Poor directional skills in PE, lacks agility,
  • Difficulty in hopping, skipping, jumping
  • May appear to squirm a lot or be restless
  • May appear low toned
  • May not use both sides of the body e.g. dominant hand and supportive hand
  • Difficulty copying
  • May lack sense of self and body awareness
  • May forget finger spaces between words/writing may float up the page

Secondary Years:

  • Slow to change for PE
  • Avoids PE/games activities
  • Poor sense of time
  • Poor sense of direction
  • Writing may be slow and/or illegible
  • Student may avoid activities s/he finds difficult such as writing
  • Slow and inaccurate copying
  • Poor attention
  • May appear immature
  • May appear aggressive or angry

Beyond Secondary:

Difficulties will continue to be experienced in:

  • Learning to drive a car
  • Remembering instructions/to do things
  • Getting to work on time 
  • Completing a task on time
  • Planning and organising of self and resources

Possible Access Arrangements:

·         Extra time for:  processing difficulties, slow reading, slow writing, reading comprehension difficulties

·         Scribe/wordprocessor/voice activated systems for: students with illegible handwriting or spelling

·         Reader/computer for: students with exceptionally slow reading or poor comprehension

·         Prompter for: students with distractibility/poor concentration or who struggle with time management

·         Rest breaks for: students who experience visual stress, test anxiety, poor concentration

·         Coloured overlays or modified papers for: students who experience visual stress

·         Transcript for: poor writing legibility or spelling