Developmental coordination disorder

Developmental coordination disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by poor coordination and clumsiness.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors 

Roughly 6% of school-age children have some degree of developmental coordination disorder. Children with this disorder may trip over their own feet, run into other children, have trouble holding objects, and have an unsteady gait.

Developmental coordination disorder may appear in conjunction with other learning disorders or may occur alone. Communication disorders and disorder of written expression are two of the learning disorders often associated with this condition.


Children with developmental coordination disorder have difficulties with motor coordination as compared to other children the same age. Some of the common symptoms include the following:

  • Developmental delays in sitting up, crawling, and walking.  
  • Deficits in handwriting  
  • Problems in gross motor coordination (jumping, hopping, standing on one foot)  
  • Problems in fine motor coordination (tying shoelaces, tapping one finger to another)  
  • Clumsiness

Signs and tests 
Physical causes and other types of learning disabilities need to be ruled out before the diagnosis can be confirmed.

Physical education and perceptual motor training are the best approach for treating coordination disorder.

Expectations (prognosis) 
The degree of recovery depends on the severity of the disorder.


  • Repeated injuries  
  • Learning problems  
  • Low self-esteem resulting from poor ability at sports and teasing by other children

Calling your health care provider 
Call for an appointment with a health care provider if you are concerned about your child’s development.

Affected families should make every effort to recognize existing problems early and have them treated. Early treatment is beneficial to future success.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Simon D. Mitin, M.D.

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