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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia, is a common disorder affecting fine and gross motor coordination in children and adults.

In children and young people this can present as difficulties with self-care tasks, writing, riding a bike, play; as well as other recreational and educational activities.

DCD is not usually diagnosed in children under the age of 5 years and not all children with these difficulties will receive a diagnosis.

They can make good progress with additional support strategies at home and school.

DCD is a lifelong condition that can impact on everyday skills required to function and participate in education, work and employment.

It is important to know though that with the right help and support it is possible to minimise the impact of these difficulties on everyday life.

More information about DCD can be found on the following websites:

Read the Movement Matters Frequently Asked Questions page on DCD Movement Matters UK- FAQ.

Support and Assessment for DCD in North East Lincolnshire

Who can I ask for help?

If you are concerned that your child has difficulties with motor skills or may have DCD you can talk to your Health Visitor, School Nurse, GP, nursery, or school staff.

What can I do at home to support my child?

The best way to support your child is to provide lots of opportunities for them to practice skills in everyday life.

This could be through games and physical activities, helping with cooking and simple household chores, and encouraging independence in self-care tasks like washing and dressing.

Starting with activities your child enjoys and breaking them down into simple steps can be really helpful.

Give lots of praise and encouragement for even small achievements and don’t be tempted to move on too quickly as your child may become frustrated and lose motivation. Regular, short practice sessions of 10-15 minutes are ideal.

There are lots of practical ideas of how you can support your child to develop these everyday skills on Movement Matters UK and Box of Ideas, Welcome to Box of Ideas.

We have also provided additional resources for teachers and SENCO’s on how your child can be supported in school on the Professionals section of the Local Offer.

What if my child needs specialist assessment and support?

Not every child with motor difficulties requires specialist assessment and intervention. In North East Lincolnshire we provide support and services using a graduated response:

  • Universal – This is support that is likely to be helpful for all children to develop their motor skills such as accessing community leisure and play facilities, fine and gross motor skills tasks in school, developing your child’s independence at home using self-help resources.
  • Targeted – This is support for children who require a little extra help with developing their motor skills, such as specific interventions provided within school to develop hand writing skills, or use of the Northern Lincolnshire OT Toolkit available to schools.
  • Specialist – A few children with more complex needs that have not made the expected progress with access to universal and/or targeted support may require specialist assessment and intervention.

If your child has had opportunities to access support at a universal and/or targeted level and there is evidence that they are not progressing and the difficulties are impacting on their ability to do everyday tasks a referral for specialist assessment can be made by consulting with your GP.

The referral must include information about the impact of the difficulties on the child’s daily functioning and emotional well-being; as well as what has been tried at home and school to support your child with developing their motor skills.

There is an Occupational Therapy (OT) Toolkit for you to complete and share with the GP to support the referral.

Contact Sarah Harding, Designated Clinical Officer for the OT Toolkit.
Email: sarah.harding1@nelincs.gov.uk.

Additional reports such as how your child is progressing in school can also be helpful.

Referrals for specialist DCD assessment can only be made by a GP

What does the assessment involve?

  • All children referred for assessment must be seen by a Paediatrician to rule out any underlying medical condition or other explanation for their difficulties.
  • The Paediatrician will take a detailed history of your child’s difficulties, birth and developmental history, functional skills and a physical examination. Additional investigations may be arranged, or recommendations may be made for alternative assessments or support.
  • Once assessed medically, parents are asked to complete a questionnaire about their child’s motor and functional skills and a referral may be made to Occupational Therapy by the Paediatrician.
  • An Occupational Therapist can assess your child’s needs and can provide advice to parents/carers, school staff, and if required a therapeutic programme of Occupational Therapy intervention will be provided.
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