The international Consensus Statement – Ontario 1994 describes DCD as:
"chronic and usually permanent condition characterised by impairment of both functional performance and quality of movement that is not explicable in terms of intellect, or by any other diagnosable neurological or psychiatric features.
Individuals with DCD display a qualitative difference in movement which differentiated them from those of the same age without the disability. The nature of these qualitative differences, whilst considered to change over time, tends to persist through the life span.” (Fox and Polarajko 1994)
The DSM V Diagnostic Criteria for Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)
A. Motor performance that is substantially below expected levels, given the person's chronologic age and previous opportunities for skill acquisition. The poor motor performance may manifest as coordination problems, poor balance, clumsiness, dropping or bumping into things; marked delays in achieving developmental motor milestones (e.g., walking, crawling, sitting) or in the acquisition of basic motor skills (e.g., catching, throwing, kicking, running, jumping, hopping, cutting, colouring, printing, writing).
B. The disturbance in Criterion A, without accommodations, significantly and persistently interferes with activities of daily living or academic achievement.
C. Onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.
D. The motor skill deficits are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual development disorder) or visual impairment and are not attributable to a neurological condition affecting movement (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, degenerative disorder).
The disturbance is not due to a general medical condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, or muscular dystrophy).
The ICD-10 Classification of Mental & Behavioural Disorders, Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines (WHO, 1992)
Classify Developmental Coordination Disorder and Dyspraxia under F82: Specific developmental disorder of motor function. This specifies the same diagnostic criteria as the more recently published DSM V.
The effects of dyspraxia are different from person to person, and usually include sensory processing difficulties (e.g. hypersensitive to sound, light or touch) and several, or most of the following:
- Clumsiness or lack of co -ordination; difficulty tying shoe laces; bumping into things; “falling over thin air”; poor coordination in ball games.
- Difficulty planning, being on time, and organising work.
- Forgetfulness and poor short-term memory.
- Slow and/or illegible hand writing.
- Problems and slowness copying off the blackboard due to dyspraxia in the small muscles of the eye making focusing slower than normal.
- Heightened sensory sensitivity and discomfort. This may affect eating, hair washing, the sense of touch, hearing or vision. The world may be experienced as “too loud, too bright, too fast, and too tight”.
- Sometimes children with dyspraxia are fidgety and restless; they are not comfortable on an ordinary chair.
- They may appear untidy and not aware of personal hygiene.
- Though people with Dyspraxia can enjoy competitive sport, they are unlikely to make the top teams due to lack of co-ordination or slow processing of fast changing activity. (P.E. lessons are often a cause of humiliation and some children will try anything to avoid sports lessons) Individual sports like running, swimming, rowing and karate are a good alternative to team sports.
- They may be easily distractible, and better in one-to-one teaching situations.
- They may have a poor observational and memory of sequencing. Machinery (like photocopiers) may need to have a “How to use me” label on it to jog their memories.
- Because of their own differences in body movement, not noticing other people’s body language they may have difficulty making, or keeping friends.
- Dyspraxic children often feel side lined at school and may have behaviour difficulties, become the class ‘clown’, or withdraw from activities and become loners.
- They often have poor sense of direction. A “buddy” in a new environment can be very helpful to prevent dyspraxic children (and adults) getting lost.
- Depression is common in adults with dyspraxia.
- On the other hand, people with Dyspraxia are often intelligent, creative, good problem solvers, direct in speech, original thinkers, hard working and, if their needs are met and have a lot to offer a school, college or work place.
- Well known people with Dyspraxia: Einstein, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Florence Welch and many others.