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The Impact of DCD

Having DCD does not mean a person is just bad at sport. It can impact on every aspect of a person’s life, including activities of daily living, education and employment, and has implications for an individual’s physical and mental health.


DCD does not typically affect an individual’s intelligence. But given that movement is crucial for many classroom activities, progress can be substantially impacted. For example, a child with DCD may have difficulty writing fast enough to finish their work and this can affect performance at school.

Another common issue for individuals with DCD is difficulty with executive function. These are a set of mental skills that we use every day to remember instructions, plan and organise multiple tasks, and focus our attention. Difficulty with these functions may make it difficult to remember instructions from a teacher or to plan the steps required to achieve a goal.


Many adults with DCD can work successfully in their chosen career. They are likely to have developed a good understanding of any limitations  experienced and developed strategies to overcome or work around these. But some adults with DCD continue to experience challenges with their movement that can impact some vocations. Traveling to and from work can also be challenging, influencing the type and location of work. You can read more about the impact of DCD on adults here.

Physical health

DCD can result in avoidance of physical activity – movement difficulties can make it challenging to ‘succeed’ in a sporting environment, and impacts on the efficiency of movement making it more tiring. People with DCD are also sometimes excluded and teased because of their performance.

Research tells us that individuals with DCD are at increased risk of poor physical health outcomes that are commonly linked to inactivity. This includes an increased risk of poor physical fitness and being overweight. This increases the risk of medical conditions later in life, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It is really important that physical activity be supported and encouraged in individuals with DCD from a young age. A crucial part of this is ensuring that a child with DCD can achieve early and continued success, by adapting tasks, working to a child’s strengths, and providing a greater level of support.

Mental health

Individuals with DCD are more likely to experience poor mental health. This includes higher levels of anxiety and depression, and often lower self-esteem. Parents report concerns about forming social connections. This is often because movement difficulties impact their child’s ability to interact with others in play settings, which is a big part of forming friendships in early years. You can read more about mental health and DCD by downloading an information sheet from our resources page.

Mental health is often impacted in caregivers too. Caregivers often worry about their child’s mental and physical health, educational experience, as well as dealing with the burden that DCD can place on the broader family unit. For example, it may limit choices regarding weekend activities or the cost of therapy can impact on funds for other needs. It is important caregivers recognise this risk to their own health and seek support when necessary.

Child on playground swing looking off into distance
Mental Health Helplines

Headspace: 1800 650 890

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Lifeline: 13 11 14