Dyspraxia (children) 


Childhood dyspraxia: James's story

James was diagnosed in 2005 with dyspraxia, a disability that can affect movement and co-ordination. His mother describes James’s symptoms and the methods used to improve his condition. Note: this video represents the parent's view of her child; for the latest information on dyspraxia see:

Media last reviewed: 01/10/2012

Next review due: 01/10/2014

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Dyspraxia, a type of developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a disability that affects affects basic motor skills (such as walking or sitting upright) and fine motor skills (such as writing or picking up small objects) in children and adults.

It is a condition that will last for life and is recognised by international organisations, including the World Health Organization. Read more about dyspraxia in adults.

Although the exact causes of dyspraxia in children are unknown, it is thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body.

Dyspraxia is characterised by difficulty in planning smooth, co-ordinated movements. This leads to clumsiness and lack of co-ordination. Often, it can lead to problems with language, perception and thought.

The symptoms of dyspraxia in children are normally noticeable from an early age. The condition used to be known as clumsy child syndrome.

Who is affected?

Dyspraxia is more common in boys and sometimes runs in families. It may also occur alongside other conditions, such as:

Many children with dyspraxia also have ADHD.

It is hard to estimate exactly how many children are affected by dyspraxia. Some studies have argued around one in 50 children are affected. Others think the true figure could be as high as one in 12.

Read more about diagnosing dyspraxia in children.

Treating dyspraxia

There is no cure for dyspraxia, but a number of therapies can make it easier for the child to cope with their problems. These include:

  • speech and language therapy to improve speech and communication skills
  • occupational therapy to find ways to remain independent and complete everyday tasks

For children with mild problems, these may disappear as they grow up. However, up to nine out of 10 children with dyspraxia will continue to have difficulties as a teenager and adult.

Having dyspraxia does not change how intelligent a child is, but it does affect their learning ability. They may need extra help at school to keep up with classmates.

Read more information about how dyspraxia in children is treated.

Page last reviewed: 05/07/2012

Next review due: 05/07/2014


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The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

futuremrsromeo71 said on 29 June 2012

My 4 year old has been under an OT for a while now. I wasn't being given much information about why apart from hypermobile joints etc. Then I asked her directly, what is he being treated for? She said DCD, and I asked "Is that the same as Dyspraxia?". She corrected me and said that was the old fashioned term for it.
On reading more about DCD, it was astonishing just how much of the diagnostic criteria related to my experience as a child, and even now as an adult.
How would I go about getting a definitive diagnosis of this? I've gone through most of my life thinking my clumsiness was just "one of those things..." and being hopelessly disorganised. But the more I read about DCD the more convinced I am that there is a strong tendency in my family for this, alongside, ADD and Aspergers. I have male relatives who have ADD and Aspergers. Indeed, I suspect my son has Aspergers but with only being 4, would a paediatrician give a diagnosis at that age or would they adopt a "wait & see approach". There are at least 4 women in my family who would fit the DCD profile and are extremely clumsy/accident prone (I am talking broken bones, contusions etc). Are there any clinical studies of DCD being conducted and if so, do any focus on families and genetics?

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biggles26 said on 13 May 2012

I get rather annoyed when people assume that dyspraxia and autism are one in the same thing. I have dyspraxia but I do not have autism. What can be done and is being done to dispelled this myth?

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Pete3243 said on 07 May 2012

Hi I am Peter Keegan Adult Representive Dyspraxia Foundation. I have dyspraxia and dyslexia and was informed at the age of 33 whist at university; I qualified as a Staff Nurse. I served in the army as a Combat Medical Technician were I have deployed to a number of war zones in the past (Croatia, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan). I have a facebook page Dyspraxia Foundation National Adult Support Group (officially supported by Dyspraxia Foundation) and of there is Dyspraxia Foundation. I & my fellow panel members continue to work hard in representing adults with dyspraxia in all issues (Employment, Further/ Higher Education and Late diagnosis) at all levels (local, regional and national). I aim to raise public awareness of dyspraxia at national level, end discrimination against persons with dyspraxia at universities and in the workplace and have better support for adults with dyspraxia in diagnosis, further/ higher education and employment.

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First Five Coaching said on 28 September 2011

Hey guys, This post was so re-assuring to me, Im 21 and have suffered with Dyspraxia (among other things) Im now Nearly Finished my Degree in Sports Coaching and Im also Captain of the Basketball team. this is a miraculous in itself because i have always struggled with sports especially ones that involve lots of sequencing and throwing and catching. I believe that i have triumphed in my chosen sport because my parents took me to Dance lessons when i was very young up until i was 16 and transferred my skills to Basketball.

So what im wondering is if there was a Sports Coaching session (either multi skills or normal sports) specifically aimed at people with Dyspraxia would this be of interest to anyone. the coaches would all be trained specifically to understand how people with dyspraxia learn and it would also be a safe environment for dyspraxics to simply enjoy taking part in sport without feeling self conscious or left out. it will also give people a chance to build self esteem and connect with other like them.

there has been research that suggests that an OT can help reduce dyslexic symptoms, so why cant sport?

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williespivey said on 26 August 2011

I agree stop calling it a childhood disorder - some like myself (60+) who never had the luck to be diagnosed during childhood have had to put up with comments, eye rolling etc for decades - is a real problem still

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MThursfield said on 13 October 2010

Why is this just listed as a childhood problem? As the text says there is no cure and 90% of sufferers will continue to have problems beyond childhood.

You don't list dyslexia as solely a childhood problem, so why dyspraxia?

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Wendy Fidler said on 28 September 2010

I wonder if we could gain permission to use your very helpful video on our website www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk
Wendy Fidler, Chair, Education Panel
Vice Chair Dyspraxia Foundation

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Ganesha15 said on 10 January 2010

As is pointed out in the previous comment, it is indeed a condition which continues into adult life, so it is insulting to the many adults who have the condition for it to be described merely as a 'childhood' disorder. Unfortunately, there is still widespread ignorance of the condition amongst the medical profession, leaving many people with dyspraxia to struggle on without the kind of support they need. A lack of awareness of dyspraxia can severely impact on the life chances of those who are affected!

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hangilley said on 09 June 2009

I wonder if this could be rewoerded as Developmental Coordination Disorder to fit in with the Internationally recognised definition? It is confusing for parents when Dyspraxia continues to be used without understanding.
The video clip does not relate to the topic but describes the benefits of play. The child with DCD has difficulty with the performance of movement not the lack of opportunity.
This condition does continue into adult life and it would be innnacurate to describe it exclusively in terma of a childhood condition.

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Special needs in children

If your child has a health condition or disability, they may need specialised healthcare and help at school. Find out more here.

Special needs in children

If your child has a health condition or disability, they may need specialised healthcare and help at school