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Motor Skills Disorder

Also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder

This Developmental coordination disorder has been estimated to occur in up to 6% of primary school aged children. These conditions have historically been termed developmental motor coordination disorder, clumsiness, dyscoordination disorder, or motor dyspraxia.

Motor coordination in daily activities is substantially less than you would expect, considering the patient's age and intelligence. This may be shown by dropping things, general clumsiness, poor handwriting or sports ability or by pronounced delays in developmental motor milestones such as sitting, crawling or walking.

This incoordination materially impedes academic achievement or daily living.

It is not due to a general medical condition such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.

Criteria for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder are not fulfilled.

If there is Mental Retardation, the incoordination is worse than you would expect with these problems.

Associated Features:

Hypertonic or hypotonic. If infants react strongly to any slight auditory or visual stimulation by becoming stiff or by arching the back, this is a sign of hypertonicity and hyperreactivity.

Infants with motor challenges are often delayed in achieving milestones such as the ability to roll over, to sit with help, and to sit without help.

Toddlers who have subtle motor skills deficits in chewing may not accept foods that require greater chewing ability.

Children may have difficulty in the ability to make a pincer grasp (to pick up small objects with the index finger and the thumb).

Infants who are unable to walk after age 18 months may have hypotonicity or hypertonicity, poor muscular strength or coordination, and difficulty with managing equilibrium, balance, and posture.

Lack of a hand preference may signal that the normal dominance and specialization of the brain hemispheres is not occurring.

Inability to hold and use a pencil in a typical fashion may indicate a problem differentiating various muscle areas and activating them at will.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Learning Disorder: Written Expression
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Cebral Palsey


Genetic, intrauterine, and environmental factors may contribute to poor abilities in motor functioning.


No single type of treatment can be applied to all children with motor coordination disorder nor is one treatment successful with all. Existing evidence does not permit the conclusion that one of the methods described below is generally or uniformly better than the others.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

The best treatment is perceptual-motor stimulation, but at present there is no complete and sure cure. Some clumsiness is likely to persist into adulthood, and the disorder is frequently accompanied by other disorders, with a disability in written expression one of the more likely ones.

DSM Code

315.4 Developmental Coordination Disorder

F82 Developmental Coordination Disorder

Disorder Sheets

Mental Health Foundation
7th Floor
83 Victoria Street
Tel: +442078031100

Email: Click Here
Web: Click Here

Recommended Book

Understanding Motor Skills in Children with Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism, and Other Learning Disabilities: A Guide to Improving Coordination - Click Here to View

Motor Skills Disorder

Misc Information


Developmental Disorder's