Usually, dyspraxia is described as an impairment or immaturity in the organisation of movement. Although it does not affect the intelligence of a person, it does affect their learning and working ability. Boys are thought to be four times more likely to have dyspraxia than girls, and perhaps one in twenty children suffer from the condition.
Dyspraxia is a motor learning disability that can affect movement and co-ordination due to brain messages not being properly transmitted to the body. Dyspraxia was considered to be simply an impairment affecting the co-ordination of movement. In the not too distant past, it was seen as 'only' a childhood difficulty and adults were often presumed to have 'grown out of it'. In reality, although a dyspraxic person who was identified as a 'clumsy child' may have learned to cope, the presentation of their dyspraxia will have changed. Dyspraxia is now also identified in people who are not clumsy and do not have motor control (movement) difficulties but who find planning and sequencing difficult.
Dyspraxia may also be associated with problems of language, perception and thought. Problems arise in the process of forming ideas, motor planning and execution. People with dyspraxia can have poor understanding of the messages their senses give them and will face difficulties relating those messages to actions. This means physical activities are hard to learn, difficult to retain, and hesitant and awkward in performance.
Dyspraxia affects each person in different ways and can vary at different stages of their development. Children with dyspraxia may be late in reaching milestones, may not be able to run, hop or jump 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. Poor handwriting is one of the most common characteristics.
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.
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 may tend to 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.
Dyspraxics often find organising their daily lives very challenging, especially the ordering of activities and time-keeping. Sometimes people who have dyspraxia become ultra-organised and spend hours planning or preparing for future events. However, even though they may seem to have few problems, this is often because they have put enormous resources into coping. Consequently, they often function below their potential and find great difficulty when facing unexpected or massive changes and sudden increases in demands. New jobs, sudden change and overload are often the triggers for a catastrophic collapse of their skills and coping mechanisms.
If you feel that you or your child may suffer from dyspraxia, and require some independent, impartial advice, please contact us. We can provide a free, short telephone consultation, and can then make arrangements to carry out a suitable assessment, where and if necessary.