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Develop motor skills in children and adults

Development dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), is a disorder of physical coordination that makes it difficult to coordinate motor and sensory tasks.

This article provides an overview of developmental dyspraxia, including diagnosis, treatment, misconceptions about the condition, and what to expect when raising a child with dyspraxia.

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Dyspraxia or DCD?

Dyspraxia and DCD are terms often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between them.

Dyspraxia is a term used to describe difficulties with motor development and coordination. DCD is a real diagnosis. For this article, we will be using the term dyspraxia.

Some symptoms of dyspraxia in adults are manifested by:

  • Fine motor problems, such as difficulty typing, writing, tying clothes, or shaving
  • Gross motor problems, such as poor balance, clumsiness, a tendency to trip, and poor hand-eye coordination
  • Speech and language problems, such as an uncontrolled tone and frequency, or repetitive speech
  • Not having established the dominance of the hand and using left and right hands interchangeably
  • Eye tracking difficulties and a tendency to lose one’s place when reading
  • Difficulties of perception, such as hypersensitivity or insensitivity to touch, taste, temperature and pain; hypersensitivity to light; poor understanding of management; or a lack of sense of time, speed or weight
  • Learning and memory problems, such as difficulty organizing thoughts and following instructions, and not concentrating
  • Behavioral and emotional difficulties, such as listening but not understanding, impulsiveness, low self-esteem, or emotional outbursts

People who live with dyspraxia may also experience anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem due to the additional difficulties of living with the condition.

Not all people with dyspraxia have all of the symptoms. The condition can be mild to severe and manifest differently in each individual.

Patient terminology

The Dyspraxia Foundation states that their institution recognizes the terms “people with dyspraxia” and “people with dyspraxia”.

Diagnosis and treatment at a glance

Receiving a diagnosis in childhood is essential so that educational adjustments can be made to provide the best possible learning environment for children with dyspraxia.

Symptoms of dyspraxia to watch out for in children include:

  • Bad balance
  • Behavioral and emotional problems
  • Social skills challenges
  • Learning difficulties with reading, writing and speaking
  • Bad position
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulties of perception

Teaching children with dyspraxia takes patience on the part of the teacher and the student.

Treatment can be individualized and symptom based. In some cases, children may require special education. Other times, children may need speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, or care from other health care providers.

Individualized therapy may include:

  • Teach children to break more complex movements into simpler movements and practice them slowly
  • Use specialized handles on the pencils to help children write more effectively

As children with dyspraxia get older, their problems with physical coordination may become less of a problem.

There is no cure for developmental dyspraxia, and most people diagnosed with it throughout their lives. However, many people can learn skills to help them live to the fullest with the help of speech and occupational therapy or other specialized therapy.


Misconception # 1: People with dyspraxia have low IQs.

Although people diagnosed with dyspraxia may appear underdeveloped, getting a diagnosis does not mean a person has a lower IQ.

Receiving a diagnosis in childhood is essential so that adjustments in the child’s education can be made to foster the best possible learning environment. This ensures that a child is not left behind in their upbringing due to dyspraxia.

Misconception # 2: dyspraxia is rare.

Some researchers estimate that up to one in 10 people suffer from some form of dyspraxia. However, in many cases the symptoms are mild and often go undiagnosed.

Not all people with dyspraxia have all of the symptoms. The condition can be mild to severe and manifest differently in each individual.

Misconception # 3: People with dyspraxia are simply not coordinated.

Dyspraxia is a movement disorder. People with the condition may appear to others as uncoordinated or awkward, but there is a deeper issue involving muscle control.

Our muscles help us perform everyday tasks such as walking, running, cooking, dressing, or writing. For people with dyspraxia, even simple tasks involving muscle control can be more complex and seem awkward or awkward.

Is dyspraxia a learning disability?

Dyspraxia is not a learning disability but a movement disorder.

However, certain other neurodevelopmental and learning disorders can accompany dyspraxia, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia.

Autism or level one autism spectrum disorder, although not part of dyspraxia, sometimes accompanies the disease as well.

Dyspraxia exists on a spectrum and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Additionally, the learning disabilities or other neurodevelopmental disorders that accompany dyspraxia can range from mild to severe.

When you consider that it’s not uncommon for a learning disability to accompany dyspraxia, it’s no surprise that someone might think of dyspraxia as a learning disability as well. However, these are individual disorders with distinct diagnoses.

Work with a specialist

If your child has dyspraxia, talk to your healthcare professional about any associated conditions you may need to know about. You may want to consider working with a specialist who can help you and your child with the best tools and therapies that will benefit their development the most.

Being the parent of a dyspraxic child

Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder in children that requires the active participation of parents.

Having a child with dyspraxia affects everyone in the family. To help the whole family cope, here are some ideas to try:

  • Plan activities that involve the whole family to make sure other children don’t feel left out.
  • Encourage discussion of issues and feelings.
  • Join a local or virtual support group for parents of dyspraxic children.
  • Embrace and encourage each child to develop their own interests.

What to expect

Receiving a diagnosis of dyspraxia in your child can be overwhelming. However, it will help provide you with the information and support your child will need to learn to live and thrive with the disease. Dyspraxia is not “fixable” and children will need to learn to manage the disease throughout their lives.

Learn at home

If you are the parent of a child with dyspraxia, you are probably interested in understanding how best to help your child learn at home. One of the best ways to do this is to work with your child’s occupational therapist or physiotherapist and consistently use the same therapies they use with your child.

Here are some other ideas your occupational therapist might suggest:

  • Be patient when working with your child as he or she will need more time.
  • Practice planning tasks.
  • Reassure them.
  • Ask questions and help them stay engaged in a task.
  • Teach your children to ask for help when they need it.

Notify the school

Make sure your child’s school administrators and teachers are aware of your child’s dyspraxia so they can better support them in the classroom and help create a positive, supportive environment for learning and development.


Developmental dyspraxia is a coordination disorder that results in impaired motor skills. It is not a learning disability, but children with dyspraxia will need special help and attention from teachers and parents to support their education and development.

A word from Verywell

Receiving a diagnosis that your child has dyspraxia or DCD can be overwhelming, frightening, and even isolating at times. But it is still possible for your child and the whole family to live a healthy and happy life. Try to be patient and understanding as you deal with the day-to-day struggles of the disease.

Talk to your health care provider about the best specialists for your child’s condition and seek the help and support your child and their family need. While there is no cure for dyspraxia, there are many steps you can take to help meet their unique needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is dyspraxia considered a learning disability?

    In the United States, dyspraxia is not considered a learning disability. However, the condition affects muscle coordination and can impact how a person learns.

    Additionally, other neurodevelopmental and learning disorders may accompany dyspraxia, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, or ‘autism.

  • When is developmental dyspraxia diagnosed?

    A diagnosis of dyspraxia or DCD is usually not made until the age of four to five. This is in part because there are no simple tests for the condition. In some cases, children are diagnosed as early as three years old or much more than five years old. Some people may go undiagnosed in adulthood due to milder symptoms, healthcare providers not looking for symptoms of DCD in childhood, or other misunderstandings.

  • Do Doctors Say DCD Or Dyspraxia?

    Dyspraxia and DCD are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two terms. Dyspraxia is a term used to describe difficulties with motor development and coordination. DCD is a real diagnosis.

  • Is DCD part of the autism spectrum?

    Autism includes a range of conditions involving difficulties with social skills, speech, non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviors, while DCD is characterized by significant difficulty in performing motor skills at an age appropriate level. Although they are not on the same spectrum, they can be diagnosed as occurring at the same time in some people.

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