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Kidspace: Research on Key Skills and Participation in Childhood

We are a research team with expertise in handwriting difficulties in children, including those with movement difficulties. We are starting a range of studies on handwriting, ball skills and cycling and are looking for children to participate. This website provides more information about our research, the benefits in taking part and how to get in touch if you are interested.

Research on children with Developmental Coordination Disorder/’Dyspraxia’

What is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)?

It is the term used to refer to children who have movement difficulties that are unexplained by a general medical condition, intellectual disability or neurological impairment. Frequently described as "clumsy", children with DCD may have difficulties with the following:

At Home:

  • Dressing (manipulating buttons and zips, tying shoe laces)
  • Learning to ride a bike.

At School:

  • PE (throwing and catching, running and jumping)
  • Handwriting.

DCD is commonly associated with other developmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, specific language impairment and emotional and/or behavioural problems.

One strand of our research will focus specifically on children with DCD aged 5-16 years. In particular, we want to learn about DCD in the context of important childhood skills such as handwriting, ball skills and cycling.

Research on children with handwriting difficulties

The skill of handwriting is an important gateway to academic success and a core activity in school age children. It is a complex skill which requires the child to write about ideas while producing the correct grammar, spelling and movement. The complexity of handwriting means that children may have difficulties for a variety of reasons including sensory or physical impairments or difficulties with language, spelling or movement. It may also be an isolated difficulty in a child who is otherwise developing normally.

A handwriting difficulty may include one or more of the following:

  • Handwriting which is hard to read or illegible
  • Handwriting which is slow or laboured
  • The experience of pain or fatigue while writing.

The second strand of our research will focus on children who have difficulties with handwriting aged 5-16 years for whatever reason. We want to learn more about the skill and the best ways of teaching it.

Research Team Leader

Name and TitlePhoneEmailOffice
Dr Mellissa Prunty – Lecturer in Occupational Therapy

Mellissa is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist and qualified from the MSc (pre-reg) programme at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2010.... full profile

+44 1895268843 Email Dr Mellissa Prunty Mary Seacole Building

Research Team

Name and TitlePhoneEmailOffice
Tai Frater – Academic (Education) Lecturer

I am an occupational therapist specialised in children’s occupational therapy and neuro-rehabilitation. My clinical work has focussed on supporting... full profile

+ 44 (0)1895 268677 Email  Tai Frater Mary Seacole Building 3rd Floor

Benefits of taking part

In addition to being informed of our future studies you will be offered:

  • A free assessment of motor skill, literacy and handwriting including a report detailing your child’s performance
  • Information on local resources and information about findings from future studies

How to get involved

If you would like further information or are interested in our research please contact us or alternatively complete and submit the form below and we will contact you. We will store your contact details on our database and be in touch with you about studies as they arise.

  • I agree for my data to be kept on a database so I can be contacted about upcoming studies



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