What is DCD?
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia in the UK, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. This condition is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke. The range of intellectual ability is in line with the general population. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present; these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experience, and will persist into adulthood.
An individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment. Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike, play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY. There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life. These include social-emotional difficulties, as well as problems with time management, planning, and organisation and these, may impact an adult’s education or employment experiences.
How common is DCD?
Studies suggest that between 1.8 % and 4.9 % of UK children have DCD1.
Common difficulties described by adults with DCD
Adults with DCD often have the following difficulties:
- Difficulties with everyday life skills, e.g. preparing a meal, ironing, DIY.
- Difficulties with handwriting.
- Difficulties with skills requiring balance.
- Difficulties with tasks that need fine and accurate movements.
- Slower to learn new skills requiring speed and accuracy, but once learnt can do them.
Reasonable adjustments in the workplace
There are a variety of ways to support someone with DCD. These include:
- Avoid handwritten tasks.
- Encourage improving typing skills, including teaching touch-typing if necessary.
- Use text-to-speech software (there are several options – be prepared to try a few to find the option that works best for the individual).
- Use alternative recording devices, e.g. use a tablet or phone to make audio recordings instead of writing notes.
- Provide extra time for learning and/or practising new/unfamiliar tasks.
- Teach new tasks or skills by first explaining, then demonstrating, then giving time to practise until the tasks or skills become automatic.
- Break down tasks into small steps.
- Encourage accuracy before speed.
- Provide one-to-one feedback.
- Arrange for regular, short meetings to review work.
- Structure the job by breaking it down into parts and sequencing them.
- Give specific feedback and provide it in writing as well as verbally.
- Reduce background noise and minimise distractions where possible.
- Use an electronic diary (e.g. on computer or phone) and set alarms for work reminders.
- Synchronise the diary and phone.
- Use apps to assist with planning, e.g. the phone/tablet app ‘Sorted: The Daily Organiser’.
- Undertake a health and safety assessment, particularly if motor tasks are a considerable part of the job.
Strengths some describe
See www.movementmattersuk.org for more information:www.movementmattersuk.org