Harry potter by Ryan Stekken/pixabay
hand holding pencil awkwardly


Did you know that Harry Potter had problems tying his shoes and with his handwriting? Well, not actually Harry, but the actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry. His difficulties caused him to be described as klutzy or clumsy. He is mildly affected by dyspraxia, which is also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Of course, the makers of the movie would not focus on difficulties that the actor had, since Harry was the hero and could use magic to bypass his problems. Even in sports, he didn’t have to run, but rather use his magic broom.

Dyspraxia is a Latin word that can be broken down into dys – difficulty, and praxia – action or coordinated motor movements. It is felt that the motor neurons are delayed in their development. This affects both the planning and action of motor movement. Some people have such severe issues with motor planning that it is called apraxia.

The muscles involved can be divided into gross and fine motor. Gross motor muscles are large muscle movements like legs or arms. Fine motor movements are the tongue, fingers, and toes. Dyspraxia can affect only the gross motor muscles, so arms, legs, and larger muscles of the mouth, or the smaller muscles of the mouth, which is called oral/motor dyspraxia.

It is estimated that one child in ten, more in boys than girls, have dyspraxia. It can range from mild to severe, but the medical community is not sure as to why some children are severe and others are mild. They do know that there are some risk factors for a child being diagnosed with dyspraxia or (DCD). These include:

  • Being a male (it is 4-5X more common in boys than girls)
  • Being small for gestational age
  • Being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
  • Genetics, or a history of DCD in the family
  • Possible – drug and/or alcohol use in the mother during pregnancy

Many times, children are not identified as having DCD until they show a delay in the learning and coordination of motor skills compared to other children their age. Examples based on developmental ages include:

  • Sit
  • Crawl
  • Walk
  • Speak
  • Say words clearly
  • Stand
  • Become potty-trained
    • Learn how to get dressed
      • Put on clothes
      • Use buttons
      • Tie shoes
    • Handle eating utensils
    • Handle pencils, scissors, and other tools
    • Learn how to skip, jump rope, or kick a ball
    • Learn to ride a bike
    • Play group games on the playground or in the gym
    • Put together jigsaw puzzles
    • Write -
      • handwriting and
      • putting ideas on paper in an organized manner


DCD can also affect other areas of your child’s life due to a longer time needed to process what is needed and be able to activate the needed muscles. One problem is the mental fatigue that your child will experience. This makes him look distracted, lazy, and forgetful. All these issues lead to your child developing behavior problems out of frustration and misunderstanding by you and his teachers as to what is happening.


These same issues make it more difficult for your child to get along socially with his classmates. Your child will find it difficult to participate in games that have motor movements, such as throwing a ball, running, and kicking a ball, or even playing tag. He will find it difficult to remember the movements and order of movements to do an action, like jumping with a rope or skipping. He could be seen as intentionally making his peers lose if playing a game with teams.


If you are concerned that your child has DCD/dyspraxia, you could find a developmental and behavioral pediatrician to evaluate your child. Or you could get your child’s doctor to refer you to an Occupational Therapist, who will evaluate gross and fine motor skills for tone, strength, and ability to learn new motor steps.


An example of what your child may be asked to do, depending on his age, is to catch a tennis ball. He may also then be asked to toss the ball to the floor and then catch it as it bounces back up. He may be asked to do the same by bouncing the ball against a wall.  There are many other actions he will be asked to do to find all the areas where his skills are lacking. From there a therapy plan is developed. He will see the OT but will also need you to practice the same skills with him at home. It will not be a quick process since there are many brain-based steps that must be mastered so that his muscles will work the way they should. 


There are products you can buy to help him with different skills, such as handwriting/spelling, fine motor skills like buttoning, tying, and zipping, as well as strengthening his hand muscle strength. Here are some examples. These are affiliate links which means that if you purchase any products through this link, the website will earn a small commission. This commission will help with the cost of maintaining and growing this site.


Low Vision Writing Paper – Bold Lines


Handwriting and Printing Workbook


Basic Life Skills Dressing Boards


Vive Hand Exercise Balls


Pencil grips


Hand Therapy Putty

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