Unlike dyslexia, dyspraxia — this is often found alongside dyslexia — is less well recognised. So just what is it and what are the symptoms that parents should look out for?
Classed as a developmental co-ordination disorder, it is a condition that can affect a person’s movement and co-ordination. It is thought to result from a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body.
Typical characteristics include clumsiness, a lack of co-ordination and problems with language, perception and thought. It can affect how a person plans what to do and how they do it.
Children with dyspraxia can have problems with smooth and co-ordinated movements and this is why it was once dubbed ‘clumsy child syndrome’. They might find it hard to hold a pen, tie their shoelaces or do their school ties. It can hold children back from participating in sports at school with a knock-on effect on their long term health.
According to the Dyspraxia Foundation, children with coordination disorders like dyspraxia are three times more likely to be overweight than their peers. Their impaired co-ordination can make bat and ball activities more difficult. But as team sports can be so important for a child’s physical and mental well-being, barriers to sports participation for children with dyspraxia need to be addressed by schools.
Some studies suggest that about one in 50 children are affected, but the figure might be much higher, at nearer one in 12.
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Dyspraxia tends to be more common in boys and can run in families. As well as sometime occurring alongside dyslexia, where a person’s reading and writing is affected, it is sometimes found with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), where a child suffers from a lack of attentiveness and impulsive behaviour.
Like dyslexia, dyspraxia does not affect a person’s intellect, just their ability to learn, which means they may need extra help at school to help them process information.
Speech and language therapy can help with speech and communication skills, while occupational therapy can help with more everyday tasks, depending on the severity of the condition.
More information on NHS Choices: Dyspraxia