Date
23 May 2024

Understanding dyspraxia

​Dyspraxia affects each person in different ways. Students may need support in specific areas or with a range of day-to-day tasks.

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Defining dyspraxia

Developmental dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), is a neurologically based impairment of the processes involved in learning, planning and carrying out coordinated movements in sequence to achieve an objective. It may affect any or all areas of development – physical, intellectual, emotional, sensory, social, and language.

Video hosted on Youtube http://youtu.be/ssfbXEc3tKc

An animation explaining Abi Hocking’s experience of dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia is sometimes called a "hidden disorder". Students with dyspraxia may appear to be no different from their peers until they try to learn new skills or known ones are taken out of their usual context.

Dyspraxia often occurs with, or as part of, other neurological conditions, which can make it difficult to diagnose. It is extremely inconsistent in its presentation and affects children in different ways, at different ages and developmental stages.

Dyspraxia can be acquired through damage to the brain by accident, stroke, or illness. This is called Acquired Dyspraxia.

Source: Dyspraxia Support Group

Indications of dyspraxia

Video hosted on Youtube http://youtu.be/ncnVYonMA5Y

James’ mother describes the indicators of James’ dyspraxia and strategies used to improve James’ movement and coordination.

Common features of dyspraxia

Although every student with dyspraxia experiences it differently, they often experience challenges in the areas outlined below.

Gross motor skills

  • Balance and posture – may bang into things and have difficulty navigating spaces.
  • Planning motor activities – affects learning of new skills, games and sequences.
  • Coordination of the 2 sides of the body – impacts activities such as jumping or skipping.
  • Spatial awareness – results in confusion between left and right, back and front and so on.

Fine motor coordination

  • Holding and manipulating small objects.
  • Handwriting and drawing.
  • Hand-­eye coordination.
  • Eye movements – such as looking to the board and back to a book.
  • Speech clarity and modulation – it may be loud or soft.

Self-organisation

  • Planning, especially organising things in new or creative ways.
  • Time management.
  • Short-­term memory.

Processing 

  • Thinking and language processing – which can affect social skills and the ability to keep up with conversations or process verbal instructions.
  • Short-term memory and focus.

How dyspraxia influences learning

Dyspraxia can have an impact on many aspects of learning and varies from person to person.

Dyspraxia often affects a student’s motor skills, language, social interactions, and their ability to organise themselves. It can also bring a range of strengths.

Video hosted on Youtube http://youtu.be/cugRkzeujB0

Ellie Madiera describes her experience of living with dyspraxia – the challenges and positive aspects.

Useful resources

File

How dyspraxia can influence learning

A summary of the challenges students with dyspraxia experience at school, with an outline of teaching opportunities to support learning.

Developmental dyspraxia A resource for educators3

Developmental dyspraxia: A resource for educators

This booklet examines how dyspraxia can influence learning and provides strategies teachers can use in the classroom.

Website

Dyspraxia

Read time: 2 min

A definition and common features of dyspraxia.

Publisher: Kid Sense

Website

Living with dyspraxia

Read time: 2 min

Impacts of and myths about dyspraxia.

Publisher: UNESCO

Next steps

Return to the guide “Dyspraxia and learning”

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