What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is often called “developmental coordination disorder,” and that’s a good way to think of it. People with dyspraxia have difficulties coordinating their physical actions. This can affect a variety of activities, including walking, writing, and talking. Dyspraxia can be mild to severe, but it does not affect intelligence. Most people with dyspraxia are of average or above-average intelligence.
Dyspraxia is surprisingly common. It’s estimated to affect between six and 10 percent of the population, with boys more commonly experiencing this condition. Sometimes the condition is so mild that it’s never diagnosed, but for others, the symptoms greatly interfere with daily life. Experts believe there is at least one child with some form of dyspraxia in every classroom.
You may sometimes hear dyspraxia called “apraxia of speech.” It takes a great deal of muscle coordination of the face, mouth, and tongue to speak properly and clearly. Those with dyspraxia often cannot coordinate those muscles well, so their speech can be slurred and indistinct. Apraxia of speech is part of the larger dyspraxia continuum.
Kids don’t outgrow dyspraxia, but they can improve their symptoms and learn to focus on their strengths. They often need speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy from experts, so early identification is key.