Developmental dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder (DCD) resources

Developmental dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder (DCD) resources

Last updated 23 September 2022
Last updated 23 September 2022

Information, resources and tools to help you meet the needs of learners with dyspraxia/DCD/neurodiversity. Best practice for these learners is best practice for all learners.

Becoming neurodiversity-capable will support your learner success approach

Fundamental to the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC's) Ōritetanga learner success approach is understanding all learners and their needs and aspirations.

These resources can be used alongside the Kia Ōrite Toolkit and are a vital resource for tertiary education organisations (TEOs) developing a Disability Action Plan. Together these will help TEOs to redesign their businesses with learners at the centre.

Ōritetanga – tertiary success for everyone

Kia Ōrite Toolkit

Disability Action Plans

Resources and tools to help meet the needs of learners with dyspraxia/DCD/neurodiversity

The TEC is committed to actively supporting TEOs to deliver quality education and training to learners with dyspraxia/DCD and other neurodiverse conditions.

We have pulled together resources from New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world to assist you to provide inclusive education to those learners. 

Please note: We have gathered these resources from a wide range of sources. Neurodiversity is an evolving field. We have made every effort to ensure that all sources are reputable. However, their inclusion does not indicate endorsement by the TEC.

More information and resources will be added over time.

What is developmental dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder?

Developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as developmental dyspraxia in Aotearoa New Zealand, is a neurodivergent condition affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults.

Dyspraxia/DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke. The range of intellectual ability of people with dyspraxia/DCD is similar to the general population. Dyspraxia/DCD persists into adulthood, but the negative impacts can be minimised with effective strategies and support.

Individuals may vary widely in how their difficulties present. This may change over time depending on environmental demands (eg, starting off in tertiary education or training; examination times; the type of course they are taking; the demands of that course; the type of assignments given) and life experiences.

Difficulties in tertiary education or training

In tertiary education or training, people may have difficulties with:

  • learning a new skill, which may take longer than for others. The student may not want to ask for help because of past experiences. They may work more slowly and struggle to meet deadlines
  • recording notes in lectures – it may be difficult to handwrite fast and legibly
  • organising themselves and their work, including prioritising work, attending lectures on time and filing notes
  • time – the student may have difficulty judging how much time it takes to do a task, time passing, or what time to meet someone
  • multi-tasking
  • planning and writing assignments – sorting out key information from notes, and proofing and checking work
  • specific work that requires fine motor coordination, eg, lab work, mechanics, cooking
  • less confidence mixing with other students and being more socially isolated
  • lack of clarity of speech, or slowness in answering questions
  • lack of experience, confidence or skill working in groups and recognising group dynamics
  • awareness of surroundings, eg, living with others and recognising what chores need doing
  • anxiety and depression – this is more common than in the general student population and may have been present from a young age. It may be worse at times of stress such as moving to further or higher education, or at examination times
  • variable performance – students often describe having ‘good and bad days’ and can also feel very tired
  • increased sensitivity to some sounds, smells, touch etc.

All of these challenges can be supported in a learning environment, by working with learner support teams to find the right accommodations and assistive supports for each learner.

For more information see Dyspraxia (DCD) in further and higher education – Dyspraxia Foundation

Overview books and article on dyspraxia/DCD

Caged in chaos: a dyspraxic guide to breaking free (updated edition) by Victoria Biggs (2005)

Developmental co-ordination disorder in adults by Sharon Drew (2005)

Dyspraxia: developmental co-ordination disorder by Amanda Kirby (2011)

The dyspraxic learner: strategies for success by Alison Patrick (2015)

How to succeed in college and university with specific learning difficulties: a guide for students, educators and parents by Amanda Kirby (2013)

Living with dyspraxia: a guide for adults with developmental dyspraxia (revised edition) by Mary Colley (2006)

Neurodiversity at work: drive innovation, performance and productivity with a neurodiverse workforce by Amanda Kirby and Theo Smith (2021)

This article provides a good overview of lived experience:

Children and young people’s experiences of living with developmental coordination disorder/dyspraxia: A systematic review and meta-ethnography of qualitative research – PLOS journals

New Zealand organisations

Dyspraxia Support Group of New Zealand

Workbridge – a New Zealand organisation that supports jobseekers with disabilities or health conditions, as well as employers and workplaces across the country, with more than 75 employment consultants in 22 centres. Services are free for employers and eligible jobseekers.

Screening and assessment

There is no official diagnostic pathway for dyspraxia/DCD in New Zealand. It affects movement, so an occupational therapist with experience in the area may be able to do an assessment. An assessment with an educational psychologist can help with providing support for continued education.

For information about providers in your area please contact the Dyspraxia Support Group of New Zealand.

Assistive technologies

Assistive Technology – provider of a range of assistive technology products

TEC may be able to assist with links to support resources. Please email us, or phone 0800 601 301.