What Is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. People with dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. This can vary from simple motor tasks such as waving goodbye to more complex tasks like brushing teeth.

What Is Dyspraxia - Dyspraxia InformationIt is estimated that dyspraxia affects at least two percent of the general population, and 70% of those affected are male. As many as six percent of all children show some signs of dyspraxia.

A person with dyspraxia can learn to function independently. Special learning methods and repeated practice of basic tasks can help. Sometimes occupational, physical, or speech therapy is also needed.

What Are the Effects of Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder. Its severity and symptoms can vary from person to person. And, it can affect people differently at different stages of life. Dyspraxia can affect many basic functions required for daily living. It is often broken down into categories like these:

Dyspraxia By Category


May Cause Troubles With

Ideomotor Dyspraxia Completing single-step motor tasks such as combing hair and waving goodbye.
Ideational Dyspraxia Multi-step tasks like brushing teeth, making a bed, putting clothes on in order, as well as buttoning and buckling
Oromotor Dyspraxia Coordinating the muscle movements needed to pronounce words
Constructional Dyspraxia Establishing spatial relationships, for instance, being able to accurately position or move objects from one place to another

Dyspraxia often exists along with learning disabilities such as dyslexia (e.g., trouble reading, writing and spelling) or dyscalculia (e.g., trouble with mathematics), and other conditions that impact learning, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some symptoms of all of these are similar.

Weaknesses in comprehension, information processing and listening can contribute to the troubles experienced by people with dyspraxia. They may also have low self-esteem, depression and other emotional and behavioral troubles.

What Are the Warning Signs of Dyspraxia?

Babies with dyspraxia may avoid crawling and rolling over and other tasks involving motor skills. As they become older, children with dyspraxia are prone to problems such as those listed below. Having these problems does not necessarily mean a person has dyspraxia. But if they continue over time, consider testing by trained professionals. You or your child may benefit from special help.

But if troubles continue over time, consider testing for dyslexia.

Dyspraxia: Warning Signs By Age

Young Children

Trouble With:

  • Learning to walk, jump, hop, skip and throw or catch a ball
  • Pronouncing words and being understood
  • Establishing left- or right- handedness
  • Bumping into things
  • Moving the eyes—instead, moving the whole head
  • Being sensitive to touch such as being irritated by clothing on skin, hair brushing, nail-cutting, or teeth-brushing

School-Age Children

Trouble With:

  • Poor pencil grip and letter formation and slow handwriting
  • Doing activities that require fine motor skills, like holding a pencil, buttoning, cutting with scissors
  • Playing sports, riding a bike and other activities requiring coordination
  • Sensing direction
  • Speaking at a normal rate or in way that can be easily understood
  • Making social connections due to speech challenges
  • Phobias and obsessive behavior

Teens and Adults

Trouble With:

  • Speech control—volume, pitch, articulation
  • Writing and typing
  • Over- or under- sensitivity to light, touch, space, taste, or smells
  • Personal grooming and other self-help activities
  • Cooking or other household chores
  • Driving
  • Clumsiness


How Is Dyspraxia Identified and Treated?

There is no cure for dyspraxia. However, early identification and intervention can greatly help. Depending upon the severity of the disability, work with occupational, speech and physical therapists can improve a person’s ability to function and succeed independently.

It can be very frustrating to have trouble communicating or moving. Beginning at an early age, it is vital that parents offer patience, encouragement, help and support.

All people with dyspraxia need help practicing simple tasks. They can benefit from step-by-step progress into more complex activities. Start with easy physical activities that develop coordination. This can increase confidence. Encourage friendships to broaden experience and understanding of social relationships.

This article is made possible by a grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.


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