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What is Dyspraxia?

Developmental dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. So problems arise in the process of forming ideas, motor planning and execution, since people with dyspraxia have poor understanding of the messages their senses convey and difficulty relating those messages to actions.

This means physical activities are hard to learn, difficult to retain, and hesitant and awkward in performance

 The term dyspraxia comes from the word praxis, which means 'doing, acting'. Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought

other names often used:

  • Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)

  • Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction

  • Motor Learning Difficulties

  • Clumsy Child Syndrome

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What Causes Dyspraxia?


Children with dyspraxia may be late in reaching milestones, and may not be able to run, hop or jump, for example, when their friends can. They may find it hard to walk up and down stairs, and may not be able to dress easily. Their speech may be immature or unintelligible in their early years. Language may be impaired or late to develop.

At school, a child with dyspraxia may have difficulty with maths and writing stories. They may avoid games, be slow at dressing and unable to tie shoelaces, be poorly organised or have a short attention span. They may find it hard to remember and follow instructions. Poor handwriting is one of the most common symptoms

Adults with dyspraxia often find routine daily tasks such as personal grooming, driving and household chores challenging. They may find it hard to cope at work and opt out of doing things they find difficult. They may experience problems riding bicycles and playing certain sports, such as those that involve using a bat. Their gait may be clumsy

Here is a list of common Signs to watch for

early years 3 to 6 years

  • Very high levels of motor activity, including feet swinging and tapping when seated, hand-clapping or twisting. Unable to stay still

  • May be easily distressed and prone to temper tantrums

  • Difficulty with pedalling a tricycle or similar toy

  • Continued messy eating. May prefer to eat with their fingers, frequently spill drinks

  • Poor fine motor skills. Difficulty in holding a pencil or using scissors. Drawings may appear immature

  • Lack of imaginative play. May show little interest in dressing up or in playing appropriately in a home corner or wendy house

  • Limited creative play

  • Isolation within the peer group. Rejected by peers, children may prefer adult company

  • Persistent language difficulties

  • Limited response to verbal instruction. May be slow to respond and have problems with comprehension

  • Limited concentration. Tasks are often left unfinished

7 years and over

  • Difficulties in adapting to a structured school routine

  • Difficulties in Physical Education lessons

  • Slow at dressing. Unable to tie shoe laces

  • Barely legible handwriting

  • Limited concentration and poor listening skills

  • Inability to remember more than two or three instructions at once

  • Slow completion of class work

  • Tendency to become easily distressed and emotional

  • Problems with co-ordinating a knife and fork

  • Inability to form relationships with other children

  • Sleeping difficulties, including wakefulness at night and nightmares

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contact your GP or Health Visitor and they will refer you to your local paediatrician or similar professional depending on which country you live in. From there your child will be assessed for Dyspraxia.


Problems experienced in childhood may continue into adulthood. Initial contact should be made with your GP who may refer you to a clinical psychologist, consultant neurologist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

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How you can help


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