What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is another term for Developmental Coordination Disorder, and it is a lifelong condition which limits the development of hand-eye coordination. Dyspraxia can also affect balance and physical movement, which can lead to an individual having difficulty navigating the environment and people with Dyspraxia may often end up with bruises or cuts from frequent falls.

Dyspraxia signs and symptoms

A child with Dyspraxia may seem to lack confidence, or be easily confused by activities which involve hand-eye coordination, from relatively simple activities such as getting dressed, to more complex activities like playing sports. An individual with Dyspraxia may even have difficulty eating, as it may be difficult to remember which item of cutlery to hold in which hand. As a result of these difficulties, an individual may be delayed in reaching some early childhood milestones, and a child may also struggle to keep up with their age group at school.

Children with Dyspraxia may not feel confident holding a pen, as they may find the grip uncomfortable or painful, and as a result a child’s handwriting may seem poor. These problems can influence spelling ability, as well as the overall learning experience, as the difficulties may result in frustration and a child may become distracted and be unable to listen to the instructions in class.

A child’s difficulties with physical movement and hand-eye coordination may also affect them outside of the classroom. Subjects like Physical Education can cause issues for Dyspraxic children, as many of the basic skills will involve hand-eye coordination, which may cause a child to feel hesitant about getting involved. This can also discourage a child from becoming interested in sports and exercise, but it can also harm their social life, as there will be fewer opportunities to meet likeminded peers.

dyspraxia signs and symptoms

Children with Dyspraxia may also struggle to sustain their focus for prolonged periods of time. This is a symptom which overlaps with ADHD and some other learning difficulties, and it is possible for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD or another condition alongside Dyspraxia. But while issues with the attention span can cause problems in a number of conditions, Dyspraxia is primarily associated with hand-eye coordination and physical movement. Children with Dyspraxia may be bullied as a result of their symptoms, which can be another scenario which affects their social life – along with any hesitancy towards sports and other leisure activities. These problems can cause boredom and loneliness.

An individual with Dyspraxia may display unacceptable behaviour at times. This can be due to how any negative emotions are affecting the individual, perhaps they are feeling isolated as a result of bullying or teasing from their peers. Negative behaviour can also be due to feedback from teachers about a slow level of development for their age group.

Dyspraxia diagnosis

The first step towards a diagnosis can be to discuss any concerning symptoms with your doctor. If you are concerned about your child’s development, or a teacher has raised their concerns, then a doctor will be able explain the possibility of various learning difficulties, as well as referring you to a specialist, such as an Educational Psychologist. An assessment for Dyspraxia can be performed by an Educational Psychologist, an Occupational Therapist, or a Paediatrician.

An assessment for Dyspraxia will usually involve assessing a child’s performance, both physically and mentally, but the primary focus will often be on their hand-eye coordination and how the child performs physical tasks. The assessor will need to know how a child is performing overall, and if a child is performing below the average level for their age group, then a diagnosis of Dyspraxia is likely. Although, as a learning difficulty will not impact intelligence, then the assessor will need to know that a child is performing on a par with their peers with mental tasks.

In order for a diagnosis to be reached, the assessor will analyse the results and observe how the symptoms are impacting the individual’s life. As well as this, the assessor may enquire about the age that the symptoms became noticeable.

The physical symptoms of Dyspraxia can be similar to other conditions which impact hand-eye coordination or physical movement, such as Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy. In order to make an accurate diagnosis, an individual may sometimes not be eligible for an assessment until they have reached Primary School, so that teachers, parents and assessors can gain a better insight into how the symptoms are affecting the individual’s life and if their academic work is behind the level of their peers.


Dyspraxia in children

The symptoms of Developmental Coordination Disorder – commonly known as Dyspraxia – can be at their strongest when an individual is a child. The symptoms will remain as the individual grows older, but they may start to ease or have less of an influence on the individual. This could be because an individual has found some useful coping techniques which make their life easier. Dyspraxia also tends to be diagnosed significantly more often in males than in females.

If you notice any hesitancy or anxiety when your child is learning to walk or crawl, it is advisable to speak to your GP about the possibility of a learning difficulty. Children are usually assessed and diagnosed as they start to reach primary school age, but it is possible for a child to be assessed beforehand if there are obvious signs of symptoms.

Very early childhood

Problems with physical movement can be an early sign of Developmental Coordination Disorder. Although children develop at different rates, and so it is advisable to monitor symptoms for a while as some symptoms may ease, or disappear completely, after a while.

You could also encourage your child to overcome any barriers, such as allowing them to watch an extra episode of their favourite TV show if they manage to walk or crawl further than the previous day.

Getting dressed in the morning, tying shoelaces and eating can also be tricky for a child with Dyspraxia. Problems with shoelaces can be remedied with Velcro shoes, although this will mean that your child may not get so much practice with shoelaces until they are older.

Other signs of Dyspraxia may include the way that your child carries themselves, with their posture, and the way that they walk. Dyspraxia can affect a child’s balance, and so if your child seems to have regular falls, or seems to gain cuts and bruises frequently, this may be a sign that your child has Dyspraxia.

Later in Childhood

When your child starts to learn games or sports at school such as Football, Rugby, Hockey or they are introduced to gymnastic work, any signs of coordination problems are likely to become more apparent. In these activities, there will be a lot of physical activity, opportunities to interact with peers as well as complex information to absorb. If your child finds these activities difficult, they may become hesitant or nervous about taking part.

In the classroom, a child may experience difficulties holding pens, pencils or crayons and their drawings or writing may seem below the level of their peers. This can cause anxiety for a child and hesitancy or nerves when they are asked to perform any of these tasks.

later in childhood

Dyspraxia in Adults

Dyspraxia can often be more subtle in adults, especially as symptoms may have eased since they were a child. There are also other conditions, such as Cerebral Palsy, which can affect movement and coordination. But adults can still be affected by Dyspraxia, and if an individual has difficulty completing their weekly shop, preparing meals or driving, then there is a chance that they may have Dyspraxia.

An adult with Dyspraxia may find it difficult to maintain a tidy house and/or bedroom. Individuals who are in busy, high-pressure jobs may find it tricky to make decisions under pressure.

Untidiness and a lack of organisation can affect relationships as well. An individual might turn up late for a meeting with a romantic partner, or the individual may be frequently forgetful with birthdays and anniversaries, which can cause problems maintaining friendships.

An individual may also find it difficult to compose notes or minutes from meetings, but this situation can be remedied by either employing a note taker or obtaining a Dictaphone. Organisations are obliged to provide employees with any equipment that may help an individual to perform their job efficiently, as part of adjustments for disabled employees.

living with dyspraxia

Living with Dyspraxia

Exercise is a great way to manage Dyspraxia. Running or walking can help an individual by allowing them to practice physical movement and hand-eye coordination. Exercise will also release serotonin and other “happy chemicals” which can ease any feelings of frustration or anxiety which have built up.

A laptop or a computer can support an individual with activities like taking notes and writing things down, if the individual is nervous or hesitant about using a pen. There are also plenty of apps and programs available on mobile phones that can make remembering things a bit easier, which can come in useful when an individual needs to make a shopping list or remember information from a meeting.

Exercises that can help Dyspraxia

Talking therapies such as Psychotherapy, Counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can support an individual by allowing them to discuss and understand their difficulties more clearly.

An Occupational Therapist can also provide support to an individual with Dyspraxia, by allowing them to discover different ways of overcoming physical or practical activities, such as creating small tasks to breakdown activities such as cooking or shopping into smaller chunks.

There are also specialists who can advise on exercises to improve spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination. Your GP may be able to advise you on this, or refer you or your child to a therapist.


Dyspraxia is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder, and it is a condition which affects hand-eye coordination. Individuals with Dyspraxia may have difficulty moving around, completing household chores, playing sports and writing things down.

Symptoms of Dyspraxia will usually begin in childhood, but doctors and/or teachers will normally advise a parent to monitor the symptoms until the individual has reached Primary School. Monitoring the symptoms will allow parents and teachers to observe whether symptoms are temporary, permanent or even a part of another condition.

If an individual is diagnosed with Dyspraxia, specialist help and support will be available for individuals at any stage of life. A child may be provided with a classroom assistant, whereas an adult may be referred to a specialist who can advise the individual on overcoming difficulties in their everyday life.

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