Explainer: what is dyspraxia and how is it different to clumsiness?

Roughly one child in every classroom has dyspraxia, though the majority remain undiagnosed. While some children outgrow the condition, up to 70% continue to experience movement difficulty as adolescents and adults. Tasks that require spatial awareness, such as driving therefore present new challenges.

The cause of dyspraxia remains unclear. Like other neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, it seems to have a genetic component and is more common in children born prematurely.

Although there are few obvious changes in the brain structure of people with dyspraxia, imaging studies show the connections between, and activity within, key motor and sensory areas of the brain appear reduced. These include frontal and parietal areas (responsible for movement and spacial relationships) and the cerebellum (responsible for balance, coordination and fine muscle control).

No matter how much children with dyspraxia practise certain movements, they will still have difficulty because of reduced brain activity in these motor learning regions.

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