The recent introduction of the diagnostic category developmental coordination disorder (DCD) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1987, 1994), has generated confusion among researchers and clinicians in many fields, including occupational therapy. Although the diagnostic criteria appear to be similar to those used to define clumsy children, children with developmental dyspraxia, or children with sensory integrative dysfunction, we are left with the question: Are children who receive the diagnosis of DCD the same as those who receive the other diagnoses, a subgroup, or an entirely distinct group of children? This article will examine the theoretical and empirical literature and use the results to support the thesis that these terms are not interchangeable and yet are not being used in the literature in a way that clearly defines each subgroup of children. Clear definitions and characteristic features need to be identified and associated with each term to guide occupational therapy assessment and intervention and clinical research.
School of Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.