The word dyspraxia is is derived from the Greek ‘dys’ (meaning poor or inadequate) and ‘praxis’ (doing or acting). The primary difficulty for those with dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement which is normally caused by an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, resulting in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. Dyspraxia is also known as Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) and the word clumsy is often used to describe people with dyspraxia or DCD.
A child or adult may have a complex profile and a range of difficulties where Dyspraxia or Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) may co-exist with other conditions such as ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia.
Children with dyspraxia are generally aware of their physical difficulties and this often leads to lower self esteem and increased anxiety compared to their peers.
The motor skills difficulties for those with dyspraxia range from fine motor skills (such as poor handwriting) to gross motor skills (such as running and general coordination issues).
Parents generally notice that a very young child has coordination difficulties or delays in gross or fine motor development when compared with peers. There may be a family history of similar difficulties.
Difficulties may be seen in physical areas such as:
- Getting Dressed
- Putting clothes on the wrong way
- Difficulty tying shoe laces
- Doing up zips or buttons
- Drawing and Handwriting
- Often losing or misplacing clothes, books and other possessions
Some early indicators of dyspraxia may include:
- Failure to go through the crawling stages
- Avoiding tasks that require dexterity (e.g. playing with Lego or jigsaw puzzles)
- Poor body awareness (bumping into things)
- Language difficulties
- Late in establishing a dominant hand or foot
- Catching a ball or riding a bike may also prove difficult
Problems may arise in the process of forming ideas, motor planning and execution, since those 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 to perform. Fitness, strength, co-ordination and endurance all tend to be lower. Likely to be poor at sports and unlikely to be picked to be a team member.
Dyspraxia or Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) is also often linked to problems of language, perception and thought. It can affect many areas of development, such as sensory, language, physical, intellectual, emotional and social and may impair a person’s normal process of learning.
Dyspraxia or DCD occurs irrespective of intelligence or background and more often in males. It can be hereditary and affects up to ten percent of the population to some extent and up to one in thirty in a more severe form. There often is an overlap with related conditions.
An underlying cause of dyspraxia is often an unpractised and immature vestibular system (the balance mechanism located in the inner ear). It mediates other systems in the body including proprioception (our ability to know where our body is in space) and binocularity (our eyes working together as a team). Imbalances in these or other sensory systems, or the retention of reflexes (automatic reactions), may all be implicated in dyspraxia. Motor co-ordination and spatial awareness difficulties often continue into adulthood to affect academic and non academic function. For instance they may find it difficult acquiring new skills such as learning to drive a car
Imbalances in the sensory systems and the reflexes may be helped through Auditory Integration Training (AIT), Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) and Neuro-developmental Programme (NDP) programmes. Improvements in these systems may help reduce the problems associated with a diagnosis of dyspraxia.