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Dyspraxia, what is it?


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Dyspraxia is a disorder of movement and coordination. In dyspraxia, the signals that go from the brain to the muscles are interrupted.

Dyspraxia can affect verbal skills, causing problems with speech; oral skills, causing problems with moving the mouth and the tongue; and motor skills, causing problems with things like writing, eating or getting dressed.

Dyspraxia is often identified in early childhood, but can start later in life as a consequence of an illness or injury. Sometimes there is a brain injury that leads to dyspraxia, but sometimes there is no obvious cause.

Dyspraxia is thought to affect 5-6 per cent of school-age children, and affects boys more commonly than girls.

What it’s not

Dyspraxia is not an illness; it’s a group of symptoms. Dyspraxia doesn’t mean someone is intellectually disabled or simply clumsy. It means that signals from their brain get scrambled on the way to their muscles.

How dyspraxia can look to others

The different types of dyspraxia – verbal, oral and motor – appear differently. Across the three types of dyspraxia, symptoms can include:

  • struggling to produce clear, fluent speech or to say particular words or phrases
  • difficulty with fine motor skills like handwriting or tying shoelaces
  • struggling with gross motor skills such as kicking a ball or climbing stairs
  • having difficulty with eating or swallowing.

People who have dyspraxia have trouble with fine or gross motor skills in comparison to other people who are the same age, have the same experience and the same intelligence.

Life with dyspraxia

As you can imagine, having these sorts of difficulties can make school, uni and work really hard. That can then lead to disruptive behaviour, dropping out, and stress and isolation.

It is essential to have dyspraxia diagnosed by health professionals with the right expertise. For verbal dyspraxia this could mean a speech pathologist; for motor dyspraxia this might mean a physiotherapist; and for oral dyspraxia, an occupational therapist.

Learn more about dyspraxia and how you can help to provide a supportive environment at work and school in our other factsheets and at www.deardyslexic.com

You can download this information here.