Have you ever heard of dyspraxia? It may surprise you to learn about this condition's connection to ADHD. Learn more about dyspraxia, including what the symptoms are, the treatments used to manage it, and how it affects people with ADHD.
What Is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person's motor skills. Also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), dyspraxia affects about 6% of school-aged children. The condition first appears in childhood but can persist into adulthood.
Dyspraxia can affect several types of motor skills children and adults use on a daily basis, including:
- Gross motor skills: These are larger, coordinated movements, such as running, hopping and catching or kicking a ball.
- Fine motor skills: These are smaller, controlled movements, such as using scissors, writing, and buttoning a shirt.
- Motor planning: This involves multi-step or successive movements, such as tying a shoe.
People with dyspraxia often struggle with balance and coordination in addition to difficulties with motor skills.
Symptoms of dyspraxia
Early on in life, children with dyspraxia may have delays in learning to crawl or walk. They may also have issues with feeding or dressing themselves and may require more assistance in these areas compared to other children their age.
As they reach school age, a child with dyspraxia typically struggles with fine motor skills like writing and drawing. They may also display lower performance in sports and other physical activities requiring coordination compared to their peers.
Symptoms of dyspraxia in adults may include poor posture, fatigue, clumsy movements, poor hand-eye coordination and trouble with planning and organization.
Other signs and symptoms commonly associated with dyspraxia include:
- Problems with speech and enunciation
- Problems with vision and perception
- Difficulty reading, writing and speaking
- Poor short-term memory
- Trouble with social skills
- Emotional and behavioral problems
- Low self-esteem
The signs of dyspraxia can vary widely from one child to another, especially since so many factors can potentialy affect an individual's rate of development. While healthcare providers may suspect an issue like dyspraxia early on, a definitive diagnosis usually isn't made until a child is at least 5 years old.
Treatments for dyspraxia
Dyspraxia isn't curable, but treatments can lead to significant improvements. The earlier a person with dyspraxia begins treatment, the better their prognosis is. Some of the treatment options for dyspraxia include:
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Perceptual motor training
- Equine therapy
ADHD and Dyspraxia
Now that you know the basics about dyspraxia, it's time to dig into this condition's relationship with ADHD. Children who have dyspraxia may be more likely to have other conditions, including:
As far as ADHD is concerned, there are a few overlaps when it comes to symptoms of dyspraxia. For example, restlessness is often associated with hyperactivity, which is common among children with ADHD. With dyspraxia, symptoms of restlessness typically include frequently swinging and moving the arms and legs.
In addition, emotional dysregulation, sleep issues, poor working memory, and disorganization are symptoms associated with both dyspraxia and ADHD. Both conditions are can also lead to struggling in a school environment and challenges with social skills.
Studies have found higher rates of dyspraxia in people with ADHD compared to the general population. Some report that nearly 90% of people with ADHD also have dyspraxia. Higher rates are also found when reporting on the incidence of ADHD in people with dyspraxia, with approximately half of all people with dyspraxia also having ADHD.
Learning Disabilities with ADHD
Although dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental condition, it's often grouped with other disorders commonly referred to as learning disabilities. As it turns out, dyspraxia is just one of a number of learning disabilities which may affect ADHDers. In fact, about 30% to 50% of children with ADHD also have a learning disability.
Besides dyspraxia, some other learning disabilities which may affect people with ADHD (and the primary areas of learning they affect) include:
- Dyslexia (Reading)
- Dysgraphia (Writing)
- Dyscalculia (Math)
- Auditory processing disorder (Hearing)
- Visual processing disorder (Vision)
- Aphasia or dysphasia (Language)
It's important to note that ADHD is not a learning disability. The way it manifests, however, can impact an individual's ability to learn, which is why it's closely associated with conditions like dyspraxia and other learning disabilities.
It's important to remember that with ADHD, learning disabilities, and other similar conditions, there are a number of strategies for managing symptoms. In addition to getting proper treatment for ADHD and dyspraxia, be sure to seek out available resources at school or at work. For example, children at public schools in the United States are eligible for individual education programs (IEPs), and workplaces may be able to provide accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.