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Publication #FAR1816

Developmental Coordination Disorder1

Carol Church2

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In any classroom, you’ll find a wide range of physical skills. Some children are amazing artists but just average at kickball. Others excel at sports but struggle with handwriting. But a few children seem to have a hard time with most physical tasks. They may be affected by developmental coordination disorder, or DCD, a neurodevelopmental condition that causes difficulties with physical coordination.

Experts believe that DCD affects 5 to 6% of children today, but most are never identified or treated. While parents and teachers might notice the problem, they may assume children aren’t trying hard enough or will grow out of it. However, ignoring these issues may be unwise (Campbell, Missiuna, & Vaillancourt, 2012).

A recent study of Canadian fifth-graders surveyed about 150 children who were assessed as potentially having DCD and compared them to about 150 similar children with normal coordination. Both groups were asked about their experiences with bullying and social exclusion. They also rated their depression levels (Campbell, Missiuna, & Vaillancourt, 2012).

Children with potential DCD reported more instances of bullying and exclusion and more depression symptoms than peers without these difficulties. The more bullying they experienced, the more likely they were to be depressed (Campbell, Missiuna, & Vaillancourt, 2012).

It’s important to note that these researchers only suspected these children had DCD; they weren’t able to make a clinical diagnosis. Still, their findings suggest that children who have significant trouble with motor tasks may be at increased risk for social and emotional problems. Knowing the signs of DCD and watching for it at home and in the classroom can help these children get the help they need (Campbell, Missiuna, & Vaillancourt, 2012).

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Campbell, W., Missiuna, C., & Vaillancourt, T. (2012). Peer victimization and depression in children with and without motor coordination difficulties. Psychology in the Schools, 49(2), 328-341. doi: 10.1002/pits.21600.



This document is FAR1816, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date April 2, 2012, as program 1908. Published on EDIS April 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.