Implications of DSM-5 for recognising adults with developmental coordination disorder (DCD)

Catherine Purcell, Sally Scott-Roberts , Amanda Kirby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has attempted to recognise the pervasiveness of developmental coordination disorder across the lifespan. However, it falls short at describing the non-motoric symptomology such as executive functioning, social, emotional and psychiatric difficulties commonly reported in adults. Consequently, at the point of entry the self-reported functional difficulties of an adult with developmental coordination disorder may not be immediately associated with an underlying deficit within a motor domain, potentially resulting in inappropriate referrals.

This study aimed to explore the reasons why 16 adults without a previous diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder referred themselves for a clinical assessment and consider whether their significant motor difficulties would be apparent.

The primary self-reported concerns related to executive functioning difficulties, activities of daily living, changes in routine and social interaction and engagement. The least common self-reported concerns included gross motor skills.

Practitioners at the point of entry need to be mindful that adults with significant motor difficulties may not identify motor difficulties as their primary concern. It is, therefore, important to include screening for motor difficulties and for a future clinical landscape to comprise a referral pathway to adult neurodevelopmental clinics incorporating multidisciplinary teams.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0308-0226
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2015


  • Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
  • DSMV
  • DCD
  • adults


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