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:

  • Restlessness
  • 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

Dyspraxia diagnosis

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