Dyspraxia is also known as developmental co-ordination disorder, and is the partial loss of the ability to co-ordinate and perform movements and gestures. This often leads to clumsiness, lack of coordination and problems with language, perception and thought. Symptoms are normally noticeable from an early age where it takes longer for a sufferer to roll over, sit, crawl, stand, walk, speak and toilet train. However, dyspraxia can affect people in lots of different ways, with a sufferer being able to perform a task one day and the not be able to the next. While dyspraxia does not affect how intelligent a child is, it does affect a child’s ability to learn and often needs extra help at school.
A recent study suggested that only 2 in every one hundred children have the condition with boys being four times more likely to have dyspraxia than girls. But the condition can run in the family and develop alongside existing conditions such as ADHD and dyslexia.
The cause of dyspraxia is unknown, but recent medical thought suggests that the condition may be caused by motor neurones in the brain not developing properly. Motor neurones are nerve cells that pass signals from the brain to the muscles to control movement. There has also been links between dyspraxia and premature birth, being born with a low birth weight and maternal smoking, drug use and alcohol use. It can additionally be acquired as a result of brain damage, for instance from a stroke or a head injury.
There is no cure for dyspraxia but there are therapies available that can help control the symptoms such as speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to allow the sufferer to remain independent. Perceptual motor training may also be prescribed. This is a series of exercises that cover language skills, hearing and listening skills and movement skills to help control the symptoms of dyspraxia. A clinical psychologist and educational psychologist can help with the emotional and psychological impact of living with the condition. However, for children displaying mild symptoms the condition can disappear as they reach adulthood. This is still quiet rare though, with 9 out of 10 children continuing to have difficulties as a teenager and into adulthood.
There are various online tests available to help give you an indication of whether you might have dyspraxia. One of these is provided by Dore and is available below.
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