You just found out your child has developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Having a diagnosis allows you to get the treatment your child needs to improve motor skills and coordination. It also paves the way for supports at school. But where do you start?
Follow these steps to begin the process of getting help for your child with DCD (sometimes referred to as dyspraxia).
Learn all you can about DCD.
DCD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts movement. It’s not a learning difference, but it can impact learning. It also often co-occurs with learning and thinking differences like dyslexia and ADHD. The motor challenges that come with DCD can make school tasks like writing or using a keyboard difficult. And it can keep kids from learning self-care routines like brushing teeth.
Get basic information in this DCD fact sheet. Find out what DCD can look like at different ages. And learn more about fine motor skills, gross motor skills and motor planning.
Look into treatment for DCD and co-occurring issues.
Kids don’t outgrow DCD. But there are several treatment options that can help your child work through motor challenges. Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) are the main treatments for DCD. Therapists use a number of techniques and strategies to help build motor skills and improve coordination. OT and PT can take place at school as part of an , or with a private therapist.
If you’re interested in therapy outside of school, learn the steps to getting a private evaluation for your child. Find out what happens in an OT evaluation. And explore resources for free or low-cost private evaluations.
Talk to your child’s school about supports for DCD.
like dictation software can be a big help to kids who have trouble with motor skills. Classroom accommodations are another important support. As for services, your child may also be able to get OT at school for free. These supports can be part of an IEP or a 504 plan. To get an IEP or a 504 plan, your child will have to be evaluated by the school.
Discover ways to help your child with DCD at home.
There are simple activities you and your child can do together at home. Explore fun ways to build fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Watch an occupational therapist demonstrate how to teach kids to tie shoes. See how to help your child with self-care routines.
Teach your child to self-advocate.
Having DCD can take a toll on kids’ self-esteem. That’s why self-advocacy skills are so important. Being able to speak up and get support can help your child build confidence. Practice things your grade-schooler or middle-schooler can say to self-advocate.
In order to self-advocate, kids need to be aware of their strengths and challenges. Download a self-awareness worksheet kids can fill out on their own or with your help.
Learn about other issues that often co-occur with DCD.
Many kids with DCD also have learning and thinking differences, like . Mental health issues like anxiety are also common. It’s important to recognize and treat each challenge your child might have.
Get to know the signs of ADHD, and anxiety and depression. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns.
Work with your child’s teacher and school.
Having a good relationship with the teacher and the school is key to helping your child. Being in contact with them helps you stay on the same page about whether your child’s supports and services are working.
Get conversation starters to use with teachers. You can also print and fill out a 3×3 card to help teachers get to know your child better.
Find support for your child—and for you.
You can call or visit your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to learn about services near you. And connect with parents who’ve been there in the Understood Community. Hearing their stories and tips could help make your experience easier—and remind you that you’re not alone on your journey.
Tell us what interests you
About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Priscila Tamplain, PhD is an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and the director of the Developmental Motor Cognition Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington.