The impact of developmental coordination disorder on educational achievement in secondary school

Ian Harrowell*, Linda Hollen, Raghu Lingam, Alan Emond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common developmental disorder but its long term impact on health and education are poorly understood. Aim To assess the impact of DCD diagnosed at 7 years, and co-occurring developmental difficulties, on educational achievement at 16 years. Methods A prospective cohort study using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). National General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam results and Special Educational Needs provision were compared for adolescents with DCD (n = 284) and controls (n = 5425). Results Adolescents with DCD achieved a median of 2 GCSEs whilst controls achieved a median of 7 GCSEs. Compared to controls, adolescents with DCD were much less likely to achieve 5 or more GCSEs in secondary school (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.21–0.34), even after adjustment for gender, socio-economic status and IQ (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.44–0.81). Those with DCD were more likely to have persistent difficulties with reading, social communication and hyperactivity/inattention, which all affected educational achievement. Nearly 40% of adolescents with DCD were not in receipt of additional formal support during school. Conclusions DCD has a significant impact on educational achievement and therefore life chances. Co-occurring problems with reading skills, social communication difficulties and hyperactivity/inattention are common and contribute to educational difficulties. Greater understanding of DCD among educational and medical professionals and policy makers is crucial to improve the support provided for these individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date5 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Educational achievement
  • Motor difficulties

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