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Dyspraxia is considered an idiopathic disease, meaning that it has no known physiological root cause, or underlying mechanism.

Naming Conventions

Dyspraxia is known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) in the United States and in continental Europe. Various other names have been abandoned for their pejorative or offensive connotations (clumsy child syndrome, minimal brain damage etc).

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition. Text Revision. (DSM-IV-TR)

The DSM is a general manual for the diagnosis of mental disorders, and is considered the standard text globally for such purposes. Its definition of dyspraxia (or rather DCD) is made up of four criteria [1]:

Criterion A

“Performance in daily activities that require motor coordination is substantially below that expected given the person’s chronological age and measured intelligence. This may be manifested by marked delays in achieving motor milestones (e.g., walking, crawling, sitting), dropping things, “clumsiness”, poor performance in sports, or poor handwriting. ”

Criterion B

"The disturbance in criterion A signiicantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living.”

Criterion C

“The disturbance is not due to a general medical condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, hemiplegia or muscular dystrophy) and does not meet criteria for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder.”

Criterion D

If mental retardation is present, the motor dificulties are in excess of those usually associated with it.”


  1. Although the text of the manual is not freely available, the DSM criteria are reproduced in the Leeds Consensus document at http://www.dcd-uk.org/images/LeedsConsensus06.pdf under the heading 'DSM-IV-TR criteria'