David Sugden originally trained in Physical Education at Loughborough and then taught in a secondary school. From there he moved to California where he completed his masters and PhD degrees at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). While studying there, he worked at various clinics with children showing a range of difficulties from severe and profound learning difficulties, physical difficulties, through autism, visual disorders and those with behavioural problems.
These were at the University of California at Los Angeles and the various clinics there, Schools in LA City and out of the Martin Luther King Hospital with a team of therapists all working with children with a range of difficulties, many of them in the movement area. On moving back to the UK, he took up a position at the University of Leeds and now is Emeritus Professor of Special Needs in Education.
For 35 years his research has been almost exclusively with children, and most of this has concerned the acquisition or the performance of motor skills in children with and without disabilities. The work has examined atypical groups such as children with cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and those with developmental coordination disorder.
His publications range from pure research through to applied and practical applications. Notable publications include being co-author of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children – first and second editions, and the accompanying Ecological Intervention for Children with Movement Difficulties, together with books on motor development and impairment such as Sugden and Wade, Typical and Atypical Motor Development; Sugden and Chambers, Children with Coordination Disorders; Sugden and Wright, Motor Coordination Disorders in Children; Sugden Cognitive Approaches in Special Education and six other books plus over a 120 journal articles published in educational, psychological and paediatric journals, and professional outlets.
In schools here and in the USA he has taught all ages of children and adults with various difficulties. In the University he has taught a wide range of subjects most of them concerned with children showing difficulties of some type. These have ranged from general learning difficulties to emotional and behaviour problems, through physical difficulties to those children with developmental disorders such as autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder. He has given keynotes and workshops in several countries around the world as well as extensively in the UK.
At Leeds he has held every major leadership role in the University including Acting Vice Chancellor. In that role, as well as Pro Vice Chancellor, he led all major parts of the University including the Medical School and represented the University on national and international bodies.