Dyspraxia in Adults

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Definition: Dys is the Greek prefix for bad. Praxis is the Greek word used to describe the learned ability to plan and carry out sequences of co-ordinated movements in order to achieve an objective. In other words it means bad movement and to an existent that’s what it is.

Dyspraxia is also known by a lot of other names. These can include:
Clumsy child syndrome, developmental verbal dyspraxia, cerebella deficits, developmental co-ordination disorder, motor learning, sensory-motor dysfunction, minimal cerable dysfunction, DAMP,DCD, minimal brain damage, developmental articulatary, And development aprixia of speech. As you can see there are a lot of names for this condition but the general term used is dyspraxia.

It is thought to affect up to 8 percent of the population in varying degrees. It may also run in families and overlaps with ADHD, dyslexia and aspergus syndrome.


What should I look for?

As dyspraxia affects several areas the list has been broken up into several components.
Theses are Gross motor skills (large movements), Fine motor skills (small movements), speech and language skills, eye movements, sensory perceptions and learning and emotional difficulties. Listed bellow is a brief list looking at each one in turn.

Gross motor skills.
Poor balance
Poor posture and fatigue (difficulty standing for long time periods.)
Poor hand to eye co-ordination (leading to difficulties driving and in some team sports)
Lack of rhythm (such as in dancing.)
Tendencies to trip fall and bump into people.
Late reaching childhood milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking etc.

Fine motor skills.
Difficulty with tasks involving two hands-such as using knife and folk, cleaning and cooking and craft work etc.
Difficulties in typing, drawing and writing (poor manipulative skills)
May have difficulties with grasp such as with lock and keys or DIY.
Personal grooming such as with make up, shaving, hair styling and shoelaces may be hard.
May use different hands for different tasks.

Speech and Language/ eye movements.
Dyspraxic adults may be repetitive in speech. This is due to difficulties organising speech content and sequences.
Unclear speech
Difficulties pronouncing certain words and with pitch volume and rate.
May have difficulties with reading, losing their place.
May have difficulties looking quickly and efficiently from one place to another.

Sensory perception
Light sensitivity
Over sensitive to sound, may have difficulties distinguishing sounds from background noise.
Oversensitive/under sensitive to touch. May dislike being touched and dislike of certain clothing and materials.
May have problems with sensitivity towards pain, smell, heat and taste.
Difficulties establishing speed, time, distances and weight-also leading to issues with driving and cooking.
Sense of direction may also be an issue.

Learning, thought, memory.
Planning/organising thoughts can be difficult.
Poor short term memory
May be messy and cluttered.
Problems with spelling, maths and essay writing due to poor sequencing.
Have issues following more than one set of instructions and directions at a time.
Dyspraxic adults may be easily distracted.
Slow to finish tasks-may be found to day dream or be aimless.

Emotion and behaviour.
Listening and working in large groups can be difficult. May be tactless and interrupt.
Have tendencies to take things literally as Dyspraxic people can have difficulties picking up on none verbal signals.
May avoid or be slow to adapt to new situations.
Dyspraxic may be impulsive and easily frustrated.
May be stressed, erratic, and may have difficulties sleeping. May also suffer low self esteem emotional outbursts fears/phobias and obsessions amongst others.

Please note that these are not all unique to Dyspraxic people and not all Dyspraxic will show all these characteristics.


Diagnosis/ assessment/treatment

Assessment and diagnosis.
The first stage of assessment is via your GP. They should be able to refer you to an educational or clinical physiologist councillor or occupational therapist depending on your “symptoms”. You may need to be persistent as unfortunately not all doctors are acquainted with dyspraxia. Keep trying though as help is out there.

Unfortunately Dyspraxia is not something like a bug that can be cured; however here are many ways to treat individual problems arising from dyspraxia. For instance occupational therapists look at fine motor skills and help with day to day tasks. Speech therapists obviously help with speech and language skills and counselling can help overcome some of the problems such as self esteem etc. In some cases anti-depressants may be prescribed where depression and anxiety are problems.

People with dyspraxia can live independently and live normal lives. There are strategies that may be helpful such as relaxation techniques, using calendars and diaries and breaking down tasks into smaller parts. Some physical activities can help with motor skills such as bowling, swimming or even simple walking. Find something you enjoy. People also find electric toothbrushes and shavers, spell checkers etc help them carry out day to day activities. It may take a bit of trial and error to find out what works for you but it’s worth it in the end.