Dyspraxia (also called developmental dyspraxia) is a neurologic disorder that causes difficulty in planning and performing physical and mental tasks. It is known as a "hidden handicap" because it can show itself one day and be absent the next; it affects each person differently depending on their age and stage of development. Dyspraxia can affect multiple developmental areas in the same person, including physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic, and sensory responses.
Gross Motor Coordination Skills
Problems with gross motor coordination skills affect a person's ability to easily make large physical movements. Symptoms include poor balance; poor posture or fatigue; difficulty with sports; poor hand-eye coordination; clumsiness; and a tendency to fall, trip, or run into people.
Fine Motor Coordination Skills
Problems with fine motor coordination skills affect the ability to make small physical movements. Such problems include lack of manual dexterity (e.g., cutting vegetables, playing an instrument, writing with a pen, etc.), inadequate grasp or difficulty holding tools or implements, and difficulty dressing or grooming (e.g., shaving, fastening buttons, etc.).
Dyspraxia causes problems with an affected person's perceptions. These include poor visual perception; oversensitivity to light and noise; oversensitivity or undersensitivity to touch, smell, or taste; lack of spatial awareness; lack of sense of speed, time, distance, or weight; and inadequate sense of direction.
Dyspraxia makes it difficult to visually track an object without moving the head and stunts locating technique (quickly looking from one object to another).
Speech and Language
People affected by dyspraxia often have speech and language dysfunctions. These include continuous talking or repetition of words and phrases; difficulty organising language; inability to pronounce certain words; and uncontrolled pitch, volume, and rate of speech.
Memory and Thought
A person affected by dyspraxia often has problems with memory and thought processes. Effects are difficulty organising thought, poor memory, lack of focus, poor sequencing capabilities, difficulty following instructions, lack of concentration, inability to multitask, and tendency to daydream.
Dyspraxia can cause strange or erratic emotions or behaviour. This can manifest as difficulty listening to people, difficulty distinguishing nonverbal signals (e.g., tone, pitch, etc.), slowness in adapting to new situations, impulsivity, mood swings, and inability to handle difficult situations. As a result, people with dyspraxia who have these symptoms tend to get depressed or anxious easily, have difficultly sleeping, have low self-esteem, have emotional outbursts, or have phobias, fears, obsessions, and compulsions.