Dyspraxia – What Is It?

The Dyspraxia Foundation describes dyspraxia as ‘an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement’. There may also be problems to do with language, perception and thought.

Research has shown that between five and ten per cent of the population are dyspraxic and that the condition can be diagnosed from early years through to adulthood.

Gross motor skills

A dyspraxic child often appears to be clumsy, bumping into people and objects. He has difficulty in judging distances and the position of objects in space, so finds ball games particularly hard. He needs to be watched carefully when climbing on playground equipment because he often has no sense of danger. His movements appear to be uncoordinated, particularly when running, jumping, hopping or riding a bike.

Fine motor skills

A dyspraxic child will sometimes appear to be a messy eater because he has difficulty in controlling his eating utensils. He is often unsure of which hand to use and may change hands in the middle of an activity. His use of pencils, crayons, scissors, puzzles and simple construction toys is very immature. He has difficulty in copying shapes and pictures.

Language skills

Some dyspraxic children have limited communication skills but a good understanding of language. He may have difficulty producing some speech sounds and be unable to communicate his ideas easily. He finds it confusing if he is given too much verbal information at a time because he takes longer to process it and is rarely able to make immediate responses. He has difficulty in following more than one instruction at a time. He finds it hard to put information in order and reproduce it verbally, which affects his ability to answer questions in the classroom.

Social skills

A dyspraxic child can often be very excitable and have a loud and high-pitched voice. He finds it difficult to adapt to a structured school routine and has limited concentration and poor listening skills. He does not enjoy cooperative, imaginative play (eg. the home corner, dressing up) and finds it difficult to make friends. He is easily upset and can have temper tantrums. This kind of behaviour annoys other children, affecting friendships. He may often appear to be rough and aggressive because he has difficulty controlling his movements.