What is Developmental Dyspraxia?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Dyspraxia can impair a person's normal learning process.
Dyspraxia can impair a person's normal learning process.

Developmental dyspraxia is a disorder which is neurological in origin. People with this disorder have difficulty planning and executing tasks which involve motor skills. As a result, they lack coordination, have generally poor motor skills, and reach developmental milestones such as crawling and walking later than other people. In some cases, developmental dyspraxia occurs with other disabilities, but it can also be a standalone condition.

Children with developmental dyspraxia may experience abnormal difficulties while learning to walk.
Children with developmental dyspraxia may experience abnormal difficulties while learning to walk.

References to unusually high levels of clumsiness among some people are very old, suggesting that developmental dyspraxia has been around for a long time. It was not until the 20th century that doctors began to recognize a constellation of symptoms which went beyond mere clumsiness to suggest that some people had a developmental disorder which involved their ability to plan and coordinate movements. In people with developmental dyspraxia, the signals in the brain which are supposed to coordinate movement become mixed up or cut off.

Someone with developmental dyspraxia may have difficulty reading.
Someone with developmental dyspraxia may have difficulty reading.

In addition to experiencing difficulty with motor tasks, some people with developmental dyspraxia also experience dyspraxia of speech. These people may have disordered speech and can also have difficulty reading and writing. People with developmental dyspraxia do not necessarily have learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities, but some may have other disorders which cause these disabilities. Some also experience disorganized thought and have difficulty with tasks which involve following directions or planning and executing a series of steps.

In some cases, signs of dyspraxia will emerge when a toddler's fine motor skills do not develop at the same rate as his peers.
In some cases, signs of dyspraxia will emerge when a toddler's fine motor skills do not develop at the same rate as his peers.

Behavioral issues can also be observed in some patients with developmental dyspraxia. Some people with developmental dyspraxia have difficulty in social situations and with social interactions. Students with this disorder may develop behavioral problems in class and these problems are often linked to the coordination difficulties experiences by the student. For example, a student who have difficulty holding a pen or pencil may act out during units during which children are expected to practice writing because the student is frustrated.

A child suffering from dyspraxia may have difficulty learning how to write.
A child suffering from dyspraxia may have difficulty learning how to write.

There is no cure for developmental dyspraxia. However, there are supportive therapies available. A child can be evaluated by a specialist who can make recommendations on the basis of the patient's specific issues. For example, if a child is having difficulty speaking and swallowing, a speech-language pathologist can provide therapy which will help with this. Likewise, if a student is struggling in school, special attention in class can help the child stay focused and learn. It is important to provide support for people with developmental dyspraxia so that they have an opportunity to realize their full potential.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Dyspraxia can impair a person's normal learning process.
      By: kmiragaya
      Dyspraxia can impair a person's normal learning process.
    • Children with developmental dyspraxia may experience abnormal difficulties while learning to walk.
      By: Galina Barskaya
      Children with developmental dyspraxia may experience abnormal difficulties while learning to walk.
    • Someone with developmental dyspraxia may have difficulty reading.
      By: pathdoc
      Someone with developmental dyspraxia may have difficulty reading.
    • In some cases, signs of dyspraxia will emerge when a toddler's fine motor skills do not develop at the same rate as his peers.
      By: Photographee.eu
      In some cases, signs of dyspraxia will emerge when a toddler's fine motor skills do not develop at the same rate as his peers.
    • A child suffering from dyspraxia may have difficulty learning how to write.
      By: Eva Vargyasi
      A child suffering from dyspraxia may have difficulty learning how to write.