Dyspraxia is usually recognised as being an impairment or ‘immaturity’ of movement control. There is no known cause, although some research suggests that it may be linked to neuron development.
Its effects are caused by messages not being properly or fully transmitted by the brain. Dyspraxia affects the planning of future acts, and is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.
There is a lot of overlap between the signs and symptoms of dyspraxia and dyslexia. Research by Kaplan et al suggests that 52% of children with dyslexia also have features of dyspraxia.
It's rare for an individual to be affected by a single learning difficulty. People will usually have two or more simultaneous conditions, ranging from mild to severe. For example, research suggests that 52% of children with dyslexia also have features of dyspraxia, and up to 50% of people with dyspraxia will also have ADHD.
How it affects people
The term dyspraxia is used to describe a set of symptoms. Typical ways in which dyspraxia may affect people include the following:
- Movements such as running, jumping and balancing are difficult to control.
- Movements can be slow and hesitant, and are not picked up instinctively.
- A lack of confidence in tackling new skills.
- The control of fine motor skills such as writing and art work are usually more difficult.
- Problems with conceptual skills can occur. These may include mastering jigsaws and sorting games when young, and analysing scientific or mathematical problems when older.
- ‘Routine’ tasks such as driving, household chores, cooking and self-grooming may present greater difficulties.
There is no cure for dyspraxia, but a number of therapies can make it easier for the child to cope with their problems.
Speech and language therapy can aid in improving speech and communication skills, and occupational therapy can aid in finding ways to remain independent in completing everyday tasks.
How many people have dyspraxia?
It is thought dyspraxia affects up to 6% of the population, with up to 2% being severely affected. Males are four times more likely to be affected than females. Dyspraxia has also been shown, at times, to run in families. There may be an overlap with related conditions, particularly with dyslexia.
Our work at the Foundation focuses primarily on people with learning disabilities as opposed to people with specific learning difficulties.
For more information about this condition we suggest you contact an organisation which specialises in these conditions like the Dyspraxia Foundation. They aim to provide support to people with dyspraxia and their families, and to increase understanding of the condition, particularly amongst professionals in health and education.