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What is dyspraxia?
What’s the difference between dyspraxia and apraxia?
Dyspraxia refers to clinically significant difficulty executing skilled movement, whereas apraxia technically refers to a complete absence of the ability to do so. It is not uncommon for people to say “apraxia” when they really mean “dyspraxia,” as the person they are referring to has difficulty with the skills in question, but not a complete lack of any skill in the area.
Doesn’t apraxia / dyspraxia mean the person has trouble speaking?
Sometimes “dyspraxia” and “apraxia” are incorrectly thought to be synonymous with “speech dyspraxia” or “speech apraxia.” Speech dyspraxia / apraxia refers specifically to a disorder of movement specific to the bodily mechanisms for producing speech, whereas the terms “dyspraxia” and “apraxia” refer to a problem with skilled movement in general.
What are the symptoms of dyspraxia?
Realize that most people with dyspraxia will not have every one of the symptoms below and that the symptoms below overlap.
- Poor motor coordination.
- Awkward gait.
- Difficulty manipulating tools (e.g. eating utensils, hairbrush, toothbrush), playing a musical instrument, dancing, cooking, playing sports, etc. It is important to know that the above is not to say that people with dyspraxia “can’t” learn to do the above things. Rather, they are likely to need more time, effort, instruction, and practice to learn them.
- Awkward pencil grip.
- Trouble dressing (e.g. getting the correct arm / leg in the correct shirt / leg hole).
- Difficulty copying gestures (e.g. returning a “thumbs up” gesture).
- Trouble executing multi-step motor tasks, such as tying one’s shoes.
How many people have dyspraxia? Do more boys or girls have dyspraxia?
Research indicates about 5 – 6% of the population has dyspraxia and that boys are affected much more frequently than girls, with estimates ranging from 2 to 7 times more likely.
How can I help my child with dyspraxia?
Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy help improve the motor skills of children with dyspraxia. To oversimplify, generally speaking, Occupational Therapy targets fine motor skills and Physical Therapy targets gross motor skills.
Children with dyspraxia may qualify for a host of classroom, instructional, and test modifications and accommodations, such as access to assistive technology (e.g. voice to text software for written assignments), special pencil grips, copy of class notes, extra time to complete classroom assignments and examinations, breaks, extra space to write in, use of graph paper to help align math problems, examinations scribed (i.e. the student says his or her answer and the instructor writes down the student’s answer for him or her), no scantron / record test answers in booklet, opportunity to clarify illegible responses or answers, no penalty for correct answers written in the incorrect location, and other modifications and accommodations.
Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy can help improve the motor skills of children with dyspraxia.