Dyspraxia is a specific learning difficulty related to motor skills development. It is a lifelong disorder whereby many of the early childhood difficulties persist into adulthood, although the range and severity of these can change over time.
Dyspraxia generally manifests itself as difficulty with coordination, but can also lead to problems with organisation, memory, concentration, listening and sometimes speech.
Dyspraxic individuals can often present with poor social communication skills, low self-esteem, mental health problems, and emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Common characteristics of dyspraxia:
- Difficulty with movement and in following movement such as hopping, physical exercises or the fine motor processes involved in handwriting.
- Hesitancy and awkwardness in performance.
- Difficulty in learning fine and gross motor skills (including coordination).
- Difficulty with information processing and listening skills.
- Difficulty sequencing written work and following steps in practical tasks.
- Poor comprehension skills.
Some key dyspraxic facts:
- Approximately 6% of the childhood population are affected.
- Approximately 7-10% of the general population are affected.
- Approximately 2% of the general population are severely affected, with others to varying degrees.
- Approximately 70% of the general population affected are male.
- There is co-morbidity with other specific learning difficulties, notably dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADHD.
- Dyspraxia can affect any number of early developmental areas which in turn can affect the normal process of learning.
- Dyspraxia was previously referred to as ‘clumsy child syndrome’.
- It has most recently been referred to as a specific form of a Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
- Both hemispheres of the brain in the dyspraxic individual do not respond simultaneously in a co-ordinated manner.
- Poor handwriting is a common symptom and is sometimes labelled ‘dyspraxic dysgraphia’.
- Dyspraxic individuals often have poor pencil grip, poor letter formation, and slow rate of writing.
- Manual dexterity is often problematic in tasks such as writing, typing, typing shoelaces, using cutlery.
- Dyspraxic individuals often have a poor sense of direction.
- There is often a developmental delay in spoken language.
- Speech control is often a problem in terms of volume, pitch and articulation.
- Dyspraxic individuals can often be difficult to understand in conversation both in terms of spoken language and thought sequencing; as a result ‘social awkwardness’ is often ascribed.
- Personal grooming and self-help activities are often affected.