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People with dyspraxia can have problems performing subtle movements, such as tying shoelaces.

People with dyspraxia can have problems performing subtle movements, such as tying shoelaces.
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Dyspraxia is a disorder of movement and coordination that is often identified in early childhood. It can also come on later in life after an illness or an injury. Dyspraxia can affect verbal, oral and motor skills. While it cannot be cured, regular therapy can help improve the disorder.

What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a disorder in which messages sent from the brain to the muscles are interrupted, leading to problems with movement and coordination.

Types of dyspraxia

There are a few different types of dyspraxia:

  • motor - causing problems with things like writing, dressing or skipping
  • verbal - causing problems with speech
  • oral - causing problems with movements of the mouth and tongue.

Causes of dyspraxia

Dyspraxia is not a disease, but a way of describing symptoms. There is no single cause. It seems to be tied in with the way a child develops. It can also occur after damage to the brain due to illness, a stroke or an accident, or it may also develop in young children when there is no brain injury or no obvious cause.

Symptoms of dyspraxia

Children with dyspraxia usually have motor learning difficulties. Some children with dyspraxia also have other physical or behavioural problems.

Motor dyspraxia involves trouble with co-ordinating physical movements, for example, walking up or down stairs, kicking balls, or hopping. Children with motor dyspraxia may be able to perform a task at one time, then unable at a later time.

Children with verbal dyspraxia have problems with voluntarily coordinating their muscle to produce speech sounds and words. They have difficulties in producing clear, fluent speech or saying certain words or sentences. Children with verbal dyspraxia might speak slowly with frequent pauses.

Children with oral dyspraxia may have trouble with eating and swallowing.

Diagnosis of dyspraxia

If you are concerned that your child has dyspraxia, see your doctor for advice and referral to other specialists.

Your child may be referred to, for example:

  • speech pathologists for oral and verbal dyspraxia
  • occupational therapists for oral and motor dyspraxia
  • physiotherapists for motor dyspraxia.

Each specialist will use a variety of assessment tools. Your doctor is likely to coordinate the process of assessment and diagnosis.

Treatment of dyspraxia

There is no cure for dyspraxia, but it can be treated and managed with a combination of regular, intensive therapies including:

Find out more about dyspraxia on the Dyspraxia Foundation of Australia website.

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Last reviewed: August 2017

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