Dyspraxia, also known as developmental coordination disorder (DCD), is a condition that often lurks beneath the surface, affecting both children and adults. Despite its surprisingly common occurrence, dyspraxia remains shrouded in relative obscurity, lacking the widespread understanding it deserves.
This condition casts its influence across all aspects of life, introducing complexities into daily activities that others may take for granted. The signs of dyspraxia/DCD are typically present from a young age but may not be fully recognized until a child begins school or even well into adulthood.
Unveiling the Signs of Dyspraxia/DCD
The manifestation of dyspraxia/DCD varies from person to person, influenced by age, learning opportunities, environmental demands, and the support and understanding provided by those around them. Nevertheless, there are common signs that often accompany dyspraxia/DCD:
1. Movement Challenges: Dyspraxia/DCD’s prominent feature is the difficulty in coordinating both large and small body movements. Physical signs may include:
– Awkward and unsmooth movements.
– Increased physical and mental effort required for tasks others find effortless.
– Limited spatial awareness leading to more accidents and bumps.
– Struggles in learning new motor skills and applying them to different situations.
2. Organisation and Planning Hurdles: Many individuals with dyspraxia/DCD experience difficulty with organising themselves, their belongings, and their thoughts. Challenges with attention, memory, and time management are common and can often pose more significant daily obstacles than the underlying movement difficulties.
3. Speech and Language Difficulties: Some individuals with dyspraxia/DCD face difficulties keeping pace with conversations, often experiencing prolonged and awkward pauses before responding. Verbal dyspraxia, a severe challenge in coordinating precise movements for clear speech, may accompany dyspraxia/DCD or manifest on its own.
The Prevalence of Dyspraxia/DCD
Dyspraxia/DCD affects approximately 5% of school-aged children, with around 2% experiencing severe impacts. These difficulties often persist into adolescence and adulthood, with a higher prevalence in males than females. However, females often receive diagnoses at a later stage in life. Additionally, individuals with dyspraxia/DCD may also have other concurrent conditions.
Exploring the Roots of Dyspraxia/DCD
Dyspraxia/DCD emerges from disruptions in the communication between the brain and the body. While the exact cause remains elusive, factors such as premature birth, low birth weight, and a family history of coordination difficulties can elevate the risk. Importantly, dyspraxia/DCD is not the result of brain damage, illness, or injury. It appears that this condition lacks a singular explanation for the underdevelopment of motor skills in affected individuals.
Spotting Dyspraxia/DCD in Children and Adults
Recognising dyspraxia/DCD in children and adults can be challenging, but several signs may indicate its presence:
– Delays in achieving early motor milestones, such as sitting, crawling, or walking.
– Difficulty with activities like running, jumping, catching, or throwing compared to peers.
– Awkward, hesitant movements.
– Requirement for explicit instruction to develop physical skills.
– Frequent falls and accidents.
– Poor pencil grip and immature handwriting.
– Struggles with dressing and using cutlery.
– Difficulty acquiring new motor skills or applying existing skills in different or busy environments.
– Challenges handling tools and equipment, such as a tin opener.
– Poor balance and increased fatigue.
– The ability to produce either extensive or neat writing, but not both simultaneously.
– Pauses before answering questions, leading to awkward conversations.
Understanding and recognising dyspraxia/DCD is crucial for early identification and support. By shedding light on this hidden condition, we can offer individuals the assistance they need to overcome the challenges it presents and help them unlock their full potential.