What is Dyspraxia?

  • May also be known as Developmental Coordination Disorder/DCD
  • Motor coordination is significantly below expected for age and intellectual level
  • There may be delays in motor milestones, clumsiness, poor handwriting, poor performance in sports
  • The difficulties in motor coordination significantly impact learning and tasks of daily living (such as dressing, eating, personal hygiene)
  • Difficulties are not due to a medical condition

What causes Dyspraxia?

  • No identifiable single cause
  • Brain develops differently which affects ability to learn and acquire new skills
  • Possible genetic factors
  • Premature birth and difficult birth increases risk of dyspraxia
  • Difficulties linking sensory input from joints, muscles and eyes with motor commands controlling muscle contraction, appropriate levels of force and timing of movement to perform actions

What are the effects of Dyspraxia?

The following effects may commonly occur with dyspraxia:

  • Difficulties with fine and gross motor skills
  • Difficulties using sensory information to plan, practice, adapt and control movements. Particularly affects tasks needing practice, planning, attention and memory.
  • Difficulties in emotional self regulation, attention and focus and memory
  • Anxiety
  • Joint hypermobility
  • Poor fitness levels compared to peers. This may be due to poor coordination and lack of participation in physical activities.
  • Reluctance to try new things and often use avoidance strategies to reduce anxiety
  • Possible speech and language delays and/or other issues
  • Possible issues with vision due to lack of coordination of eye muscles
  • Social difficulties with peers and others
  • Poor academic performance
  • Possible behavioural challenges (tantrums, meltdowns, defiance

Things which help

  • Occupational Therapy for coordination, development of daily living skills and sensory issues
  • Physiotherapy to build strength and coordination
  • Speech Language Therapy for speech issues
  • Learning support and curriculum modification at school
  • Visuals to prompt memory and improve organisation
  • Break down tasks into simple steps
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Practice new skills daily to increase independence and confidence
  • Encourage problem solving to facilitate resilience and confidence
  • Set realistic and achievable goals
  • Encourage participation rather than competition
  • Use multisensory approaches to learning new skills
  • Model tasks and use hands-on adjustment to develop bodily awareness
  • Teach social skills and emotional awareness
  • Allow extra time to process instructions and perform tasks
  • Offer lots of opportunities to practice
  • Give lots of praise and encouragement


Dyspraxia Support Group of NZ. Based in Christchurch.
Phone 03 358 3249

Carolyn Jury (BAppSocSci, Counselling)
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