Dyspraxia comes from the Greek word "praxis," referring to the neurological process that directs movement. This process includes forming an idea, planning an action and executing a movement. Dyspraxia, or difficulty carrying out these functions, may exist with other conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sensory integration dysfunction. There are many signs that a child or adult may be suffering from dyspraxia.
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Signs of dyspraxia may include poor fine motor skills in the areas of manual dexterity, manipulation and grasp. Larger movements may also be affected in the areas of balance, posture and eye-hand coordination. A person with dyspraxia may have problems with craft work, playing a musical instrument, typing, handwriting, holding pencils or tools, fastening clothing or tying shoelaces. He may have difficulty playing sports, riding a bicycle, driving, dancing or changing directions. He may bump into other people or be viewed as clumsy. Additionally, he may have difficulty deciding which hand to use for a given task.
Language symptoms of dyspraxia include difficulty planning and organising what is said, as well as difficulty with pronunciation, pitch, volume and rate of speech. A person with dyspraxia may talk continuously or repeat words or phrases, and her speech may have disorganised content. She may have trouble putting sounds and syllables in the right order. She may not be consistent in her speech and need to say a word several times before pronouncing it correctly.
Dyspraxia can cause difficulty with sensory integration. A person with dyspraxia may be overly sensitive or under-sensitive to touch, sounds, smells, taste, temperature, pain or light. He may have a poor sense of direction, time, speed, distance or weight. Poor visual perception and lack of awareness of body position in relation to other objects may also occur.
Dyspraxia can also affect the learning process. A person who suffers with dyspraxia may have difficulty following instructions, concentrating, remembering and completing work on time. She may have difficulty finishing a task, maintaining accuracy or following through on assignments. Schoolwork may be messy and the work space cluttered. Subjects that require sequencing may be especially affected, such as spelling, writing, reading and math.
Dyspraxia may make the behaviour of a person appear erratic. A person with dyspraxia may avoid difficult tasks, become easily frustrated, have difficulty adapting to new situations, take things literally, interrupt frequently or have difficulty listening and understanding. These behaviours make succeeding at school or work more difficult. In turn, these difficulties can result in more emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
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- Learning Disabilities Association of America: Dyspraxia
- British Journal of Medical Practice: Is Dyspraxia a Medical Condition or a Social Disorder? [PDF]
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: Apraxia of Speech
- Eastern Michigan University: Childhood Apraxia of Speech: A Parent's Guide [PDF]
- Dyspraxia Foundation: Symptoms