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Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)

Posted on May 23, 2019 by Ann

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“I was having a hard time at school, in terms of being crap at everything, with no discernible talent”
(Daniel Radcliffe, actor who played Harry Potter)

Can’t Tie Shoelaces?

In 2008, Daniel Radcliffe revealed that he has a mild form of the neurological disorder developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia.

The motor skill disorder sometimes prevents him from doing certain activities, such tying his own shoelaces, but it certainly did not stop him from becoming an award-winning actor!

© Joella Marano

There is no cure for DCD but there are ways to manage it.

Can’t tie shoelaces? Just use the less cute velcro shoes, as the following video by AWWA explains:

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder?

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia is an impairment in the development of motor coordination that affects fine and/or gross motor coordination in children, youths, and adults.

  • DCD has been found to affect 4 – 6 percent of school-aged children. Aside from issues with fine and/or gross motor coordination, those diagnosed with DCD may also have poor planning, and organising skills, and find it difficult to follow routines in a proper sequence daily.
  • DCD may coexist with various conditions, including dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and social and behavioural impairment.
  • DCD is generally seen as a large umbrella diagnosis, which comprises conditions pertaining to motor or bilateral coordination issues, and motor planning issues, like Dyspraxia DCD may affect speech, perception, and thought.

Early recognition of DCD is crucial in identifying a child’s educational and social needs, so that appropriate intervention can be prescribed.

What causes DCD?

The exact causes of DCD are not known, but some think it may be caused by issues with the system that transmits messages from the brain to the body.

What are the common issues?

What are the symptoms?

What can be done?

The motor coordination issues experienced may never disappear, but appropriate intervention can help one perform tasks better, and boost integration in school, at home, and the larger community. Here are the professionals who can help:

Occupational Therapist

An Occupational Therapist (OT) assesses, and determines one’s motor and coordination skills, and capability in carrying out activities of daily living, such as independence in showering, eating, traveling, et cetera. An OT, may work alongside other professionals, such as a physiotherapist (PT), to support children through home intervention, school visits, and education and training, at home, in school, and the larger community.

Recommendations include:
• Modifications of a child’s environment
• Ideas on how to increase a child’s participation in physical/sports activities
• Identifying community/recreational activities that match a child’s capabilities

Speech Language Therapist

A speech disorder that may co-occur with DCD is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), which is a motor speech disorder. Those with CAS have
problems saying sounds, syllables, and words, due to issues in planning the movement of the lips, jaw, tongue, et cetera, needed for speech.

A Speech Language Therapist (SLT) may be beneficial in helping to improve the planning, sequencing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech production, alongside providing useful feedback, and visual cues when a child practises speech.


In the event a child displays secondary emotional or behavioural issues, a psychologist may also be brought in to work with therapists to support the child holistically.

What can caregivers do?

1. Provide verbal, systematic reminders, when a task involves multiple steps. For example, should your child/ward have issues packing his/her pencil case, ask questions like, “What do we need to do first? Unzip the pencil case, or place the pencil in?”

2. Assist your child/ward in practising independent skills, such as buttoning clothes or fastening zippers.

3. Encourage movement, by participating in physical activities together, such as swimming, and cycling.

4. Keep your child/ward motivated and avoid mishaps during games, by ensuring they are equipped with protective gear, such as knee pads, and helmets.

5. Assist your child/ward in getting familiar with a new environment or playground, before allowing him/her to socialise and play independently.

6. Celebrate your child/ward’s achievements when they succeed in non-motor tasks, such as being able to read fluently.

7. When working with external parties, take the time to explain to others about DCD, and how to support your child/ward’s needs and challenges.

8. Be creative and participate in the intervention activities so that your child/ward sees intervention as a team activity rather than plain intervention.


A large part of this article is reproduced with permission from AWWA.

Established in 1970, AWWA is a social service organisation, serving over 6,000 of the disadvantaged across life stages. Services include early intervention for pre-schoolers, education and disability support for children with special needs, assistance to low income families, caregivers, and health and social assistance for vulnerable seniors. AWWA is Singapore-based, with an Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status.


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All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.