It seems a bit of a tradition for us dyspraxic bloggers to write a post about what dyspraxia actually is. Fortunately, awareness does seem to be increasing, no doubt helped by Ryan’s dyspraxia in Dr Who and people like Daniel Radcliffe being open about their dyspraxia.

That’s great, but I’m still unclear. What’s dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a condition characterised by difficulties with motor skills and co-ordination – things like balance, running, skipping, writing and using cutlery, for example.

But it’s much broader than that. Dyspraxia also affects spatial awareness and how we process information. It affects a wide range of areas, including:

  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Balance
  • Planning and organisation
  • Sensory processing (e.g. hypersensitivity to sounds, difficulty screening out background noise)
  • Speech and communication
  • Slower information processing
  • Confidence and self-esteem

How many people are dyspraxic?

More boys are diagnosed with dyspraxia than girls. It’s not clear if this is because boys are more likely to be dyspraxic, or because we’re less good at spotting dyspraxia in girls. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any prevalence statistics for trans, non-binary or gender diverse people.

Don’t children grow out of dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is usually a lifelong condition. Some people develop dyspraxic tendencies later in life, for example following a brain injury – this is usually known as apraxia rather than dyspraxia, to reflect that it is not a developmental/lifelong condition.

Is dyspraxia the same thing as DCD?

DCD stands for Developmental Co-ordination Disorder. The two terms are often used interchangeably. Professionals often seem to prefer DCD, perhaps because it has been more tightly defined than dyspraxia.

That said, the Dyspraxia Foundation notes that:

“While DCD is often regarded as an umbrella term to cover motor coordination difficulties, dyspraxia refers to those people who have additional problems planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech, perception and thought.”

What causes dyspraxia?

Is there a cure for dyspraxia?

No, there’s no cure for dyspraxia. But there are options for improving dyspraxic symptoms, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and langauge therapy, and support groups. Children are more likely than adults to be able to access diagnostic and follow-up support from the NHS.

Is dyspraxia a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substational and long-term adverse effect on your ability to do day-to-day tasks.

Dyspraxia often fits this definition. Most dyspraxic people I’ve spoken to have described themselves as disabled. Dyspraxia can affect most – if not all – areas of a person’s life.

Are there any upsides to dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is characterised by large differences between poor motor skills and strengths in other areas.

This means people with dyspraxia have significant strengths, as well as facing significant challenges.

Strengths commonly associated with dyspraxia include:

  • Empathy
  • Determination
  • Creativity
  • Sense of humour
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Strong verbal abilities
  • Attention to detail

Would you get rid of your dyspraxia if you could?

Honestly? No. It’s part of who I am. Yes, life would be easier in some ways – a lot of ways! But being dyspraxic has also taught me to fight for myself and others; to persevere and keep trying; and that something being difficult is not the same as it being impossible.

Most importantly, dyspraxia has taught me to embrace difference and diversity. And that’s something I believe can only enrich my life.

Where can I get support or find out more about dyspraxia?

The Dyspraxia Foundation have lots of information on their website, a helpline you can call, and local support groups in many areas.

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