By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder. It can affect all phases and aspects of a child’s growth including physical, social, memory, language, sensory development, intellectual and emotional growth.
There may be underlying problems with language, perception and thought leading to impairment in the learning process. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Causes of Dyspraxia
Normally the brain processes information via sensory pathways and nerves. Movement is thus coordinated.
In a child with dyspraxia this process of creating ideas, planning a movement and its execution is disrupted.
The result is difficult, hesitant and awkward physical activities. In fact the condition is more of a developmental co-ordination disorder. It is also called Perceptuo-Motor Dysfunction, and Motor Learning Difficulties. (2, 3)
Symptoms of dyspraxia
The characteristic features of the condition are clumsiness, lack of co-ordination and problems with language, perception and thought.
The condition was earlier referred to as “clumsy child syndrome” or Minimal Brain Damage.
Earlier signs that the baby might develop dyspraxia include features of avoidance of crawling and rolling over and other tasks involving motor skills. As they become older, children with dyspraxia are prone to other motor problems.
Incidence of dyspraxia
It is difficult to assess the exact incidence of this condition. Some studies have shown that around 1 in 50 children, yet others argue that the numbers are as high as 1 in 12.
It affects boys more than girls and may often be inherited.
Dyspraxia and other disorders
Children with dyspraxia may also suffer from other behavioral disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia etc.
While the former is characterized by symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness; the latter is a learning difficulty that mainly affects the skills involved in reading, writing and spelling words.
ADHD may affect nearly half of all children with dyspraxia.
Dyspraxia and intelligence
What is important to note is that dyspraxia does not affect intelligence.
A child with dyspraxia in other words, is not mentally retarded. However, due to their learning difficulties they may need extra help at school to keep up with their peers.
Treatment for dyspraxia
There is no cure for dyspraxia but there are interventions and therapies that can help children with dyspraxia.
These include speech and language therapy, occupational or vocational therapy etc. Up to 9 out of 10 children with dyspraxia may continue to have difficulties as a teenager and adult. (4)
Edited by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)