Dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder (DCD)


Last weekend I was asked a difficult question: “do you diagnose dyspraxia?”. My answer can hardly have inspired confidence: “well, I never have, but I’m thinking of doing so in the future.”

The question came in a workshop (1) I was giving at the annual conference of DANDA (Developmental Adult Neuro-Diversity Association), an organization which supports the concept of dyspraxia in adults, alongside the much better-known conditions of autism, ADD / ADHD and dyslexia.

I think I have only seen one or two people with a main diagnosis of dyspraxia, as compared with at least a dozen with dyslexia. DANDA recognises that many people have different combinations of these developmental conditions, and the conference was, for me, a useful opportunity to catch up with some of the literature (2) on DCD (developmental coordination disorder, as some prefer to call it).

The problem, from DANDA’s point of view, is that very few specialists are prepared to diagnose dyspraxia in adults. Talking with the workshop participants, I began to see how, although many people with dyspraxia have interpersonal and organisational issues which I would usually see as either falling into the autistic spectrum on the one hand, or ADD / ADHD on the other, the “dyspraxia” concept is most meaningful for them. Perhaps this is because problems are experienced as much more within the body, and not just the mind.

Anyway, in the closing discussion I did give something of a promise that within six months I would be able to give a more definite “yes or no” answer to whether I diagnose DCD. For the moment my “official” position is “maybe…but do you think you might have anxiety, depression, ASD, ADD / ADHD…etc…as well?”



(1) “Managing anxiety and depression in neuro-developmental disorders” Workshop at DANDA annual conference, London, Saturday June 19th 2010

(2) Such as Living with Dyspraxia: A Guide for Adults with Developmental Dyspraxia (2006) by Mary Colley

Published at www.DrNM.org.uk on 25th June 2010; transferred to DrNMblog.wordpress.com on 10th October 2011

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About Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych

Independent Psychiatrist providing culturally informed mental health opinion, advice, and a few new facts. Based near London, UK. Main qualifications: BA MBBS MA MRCPsych.

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