Raising awareness · Shows and conferences


In the UK developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is also known as dyspraxia.

This year’s theme for Dyspraxia Awareness Week is Mental Health Matters. The focus for 2018 is on teenagers; for 2019, it will be adults.

Anyone who has looked at other infographics I have created to try to illustrate neurodiverse conditions, their causes (as currently understood), common signs and best practice will have noticed that I always include a ‘risk’: what might happen if an individual is not properly supported through reasonable adjustments, accommodations and accessible provision. That risk relates closely to mental health; however, with timely assessment, understanding and the right support, we can all help to improve outcomes.

To mark Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2018, I wanted to share some information from a recent training.

On Friday 21st September, I was lucky to be one of about 2 dozen assessors, therapists and trainers at a workshop for professionals assessing developmental coordination disorder (DCD). It was the first training of its kind, led by Professor Amanda Kirby, introducing the Diagnostic Interview for DCD in Adults (DIDA), launched earlier this year and created by Professors Amanda Kirby, Anna Barnett and Elisabeth Hill.

The DIDA diagnostic criteria are based on the 2018 UK DCD descriptor, which in turn reflects the 2018 European Guidelines for DCD, which is based on DSM-V and IDC-10.

UK DCD descriptor (2018)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia in the UK, is a common disorder affecting movement and coordination in children, young people and adults with symptoms present since childhood.

DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke and occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. This lifelong condition is recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation.

A person’s coordination difficulties affect their functioning of everyday skills and participation in education, work, and leisure activities. Difficulties may vary in their presentation and these may also change over time depending on environmental demands, life experience, and the support given. There may be difficulties learning new skills. (For more info, see Movement Matters)

The movement and coordination difficulties often persist in adulthood, although non-motor difficulties may become more prominent as expectations and demands change over time.

A range of co-occurring difficulties can have a substantial adverse impact on life including mental and physical health, and difficulties with time management, planning, personal organisation, and social skills.

With appropriate recognition, reasonable adjustments, support, and strategies in place people with DCD can be very successful in their lives.

We were guided through the diagnostic interview, referring all the time to manifestations of difficulties that might be signs of DCD, considering an individual’s history from early development through primary and secondary school and on to further and higher education and work. Possible differential diagnoses and onward referrals were looked at in detail, whether for physical health or neurological conditions.

We discussed situations where someone might be an accomplished sportsperson, artist, musician DESPITE the presence of DCD. Dedication and practice, with support can make all the difference, but it may mask symptoms that would otherwise make diagnosis more straightforward.

We considered neurodiversity and co-occurring conditions, as well as the spectrum of physical and sensory differences that might constitute DCD.

It was a packed day, full of insight and an absolute privilege to be in the presence of so many dedicated practitioners. I would highly recommend other assessors attend when the training is repeated!

Before embarking on a full diagnostic assessment including the DIDA, the Adult DCD Checklist should be completed.

For information related to assessing and supporting FE and HE students, see the Movement Matters leaflet.

Children should be referred via school or GP for assessment by a multidisciplinary team.

For more information on DCD, visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website.

Excellent resources and advice are available from Movement Matters and Box of Ideas.

The National Handwriting Association has great suggestions related to the development and support of writing skills in children and young people. It’s a great resource for students, educators, therapists and parents.

For more information and an international perspective, check out CanChild.

There’s a collection of infographics based on years of classroom experience and collaboration with OTs here.



Adams et al. (2014) Compromised motor control in children with DCD: A deficit in the internal model?—A systematic review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 47(C), pp.225–244.

Gomez, A. et al. (2015) Mathematical difficulties in developmental coordination disorder: Symbolic and nonsymbolic number processing. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 43-44, pp.167–178.

Kirby, A., Barnett, A, and Hill, E. (2018) Diagnostic Interview for DCD in Adults (DIDA)

Reynolds et al. (2015) A systematic review of mirror neuron system function in developmental coordination disorder: Imitation, motor imagery, and neuroimaging evidence. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 47, pp.234–283.

Sumner, E., Pratt, M. & Hill, E. (2016) Examining the cognitive profile of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Research in developmental disabilities, 56(C), pp.10–7.

Trainor, L. et al. (2018) Is auditory perceptual timing a core deficit of developmental coordination disorder? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 14231(1), pp.30–39.

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