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Signs and Symptoms of Developmental Coordination Disorder


If a child lacks coordination or is often regarded as clumsy, he or she may be affected by Developmental Coordination Disorder, or DCD. This condition is believed to affect the fine and/or gross motor coordination of about 5 to 6 percent of all school-aged children.

Signs of Developmental Coordination Disorder

The earliest signs of DCD usually involve developmental delays in infants and toddlers. For example, sucking and swallowing, rolling over, sitting, crawling and walking may take longer to occur, and children may struggle to master these activities.

Signs of DCD in older children include difficulties in learning how to handle spoons, knives and forks. Children with DCD also find it difficult to play with toys that involve coordination, such as stacking wooden bricks or fitting shapes into specific openings.

School-aged children may experience difficulties in the following areas:

  • Ball skills like kicking, catching and throwing
  • Hopping, jumping and running
  • Negotiating stairs
  • Using scissors accurately and holding them properly
  • Writing and drawing, which appear scribbled or not age-appropriate
  • Tying shoelaces, fastening buttons or getting dressed
  • Keeping still for the same length of time children of the same age are able to

Just because a child seems to be awkward and clumsy does not mean he or she has a disorder. All children bump into objects, drop things and fall over at times, and clumsiness in children can be a normal part of childhood.


Developmental Coordination Disorder is not just the simple inability to perform fine and gross motor movements. The condition also involves the difficulties experienced when processing sensory information and deciding what action to take in response. For instance, when a child reaches a flight of stairs, she has to decide where to put her feet and how to climb onto the next step. During a ball game, another child may be unable to discern what to do when the ball is flying toward him.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other learning disorders may exhibit symptoms of DCD because they are often intricately connected. For example, children with ADHD often find it difficult to sit still in the classroom or at the dinner table. It is estimated that about 50 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD also have DCD. Common areas of difficulty include

  • Bumping into other people or objects
  • Inability to concentrate when playing or learning
  • Struggling to learn a set of physical movements without a lot of practice
  • Poor organizational skills
  • Problems with communication

Help for Poor Coordination

It's important that DCD is identified as early as possible because this gives children and parents the best chance of successfully coping with the condition. Children of all ages can benefit from treatment and activities that help them physically, emotionally and socially manage DCD.

To schedule an assessment for your child, or to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help, contact us online or find a center near you.

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