Dyspraxia or DCD? What’s in a name?

For many occupational therapists the question continues to arise regarding how to label the motor organization and coordination difficulties we treat in children.  Popular terms include developmental dyspraxia, dyspraxia, and developmental coordination disorder.  As previously noted in this blog, there can be strong feelings among different groups regarding terminology.  At this time there continues to be a lack of consensus on which term is most appropriate.

I came across an article recently which may be useful.  While I don’t agree totally with all that is reported, it can provide a nice summary of the situation.  This article,Dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder? Unraveling the enigma”  by Gibbs, Appelton and Appelton is open access and available for download.  These authors propose that functionally the terms DCD and dyspraxia be considered synonymous and that the best approach is to avoid labels at all and simply focus on describing the child’s motor difficulties.  This approach is probably the most useful for therapists and can allow more flexibility in perspectives.  Therapists who work from a sensory integration perspective can describe the perceived sensory foundations, while those working from other perspectives can concentrate on those skills most relevant to them.  Ultimately, the label is not important.  What is important is how we can treat the problem and improve the lives of our clients.

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