Dyspraxia is also known as ‘Developmental Coordination Disorder’ (DCD). It is a ‘Specific Learning Difficulty’ (SpLD) in adults and children. An SpLD is a difficulty with processing information. Dyspraxia primarily affects physical movements, or ‘motor skills’. It can also impact memory, speech, and planning and organisational abilities, like organising work.
Dyspraxia is different from other conditions that also affect movement, like head injuries. It is a common, hidden disorder, affecting up to 10% of the population to varying degrees. It is lifelong and incurable. Having dyspraxia does not mean that a person is less intelligent, but dyspraxia makes it harder for a person to learn.
CAUSES OF DYSPRAXIA
The exact causes behind coordination not developing well in children with dyspraxia are unknown.
Doing coordinated movements, like tying shoelaces, is a complex process that involves parts of the brain sending messages to nerves. Dyspraxia is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body.
There are some known risk factors which increase the chance of having dyspraxia. These include being born prematurely (early), having a low birth weight, and having other family members with dyspraxia. Dyspraxia runs in families, although it is unclear which genes are involved in the condition. It is three or four times more common in boys than girls.
EFFECTS OF DYSPRAXIA
Each person experiences dyspraxia differently, and the amount it impacts someone can change over time, depending on factors like support given and someone’s environment.
The main effects of dyspraxia are:
Movement and coordination. Body movements normally appear awkward and ‘laboured’ (done with great effort or difficulty). Poor body and spatial awareness often results in people with dyspraxia tripping and bumping into things. In general, physical skills are hard to master.
Organisation and planning. People with dyspraxia often find it hard to organise their thoughts and bodies. They often have difficulties with attention, memory, and time management.
Speech and language. A person with dyspraxia might find it hard to keep up with conversations. Verbal dyspraxia is a type of dyspraxia with severe difficulties in producing clear speech. Verbal dyspraxia can happen by itself, or along with general, motor dyspraxia.
Dyspraxia often occurs along with other conditions, like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. People with dyspraxia may also have emotional difficulties, like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
It is important to spot dyspraxia early. This means that treatment and support can be started, and the person has a better chance of being healthy, happy, and reaching their full potential. Therapy and support can help people with dyspraxia to develop life skills and ensure that their needs are met. With the right strategies, it is possible to reduce the impact of dyspraxia on daily activities.
If you have dyspraxia, it is vital to remember that you are a person first before your limitation. Inspirational people with dyspraxia, like Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, show that having dyspraxia does not have to define you.