OFTEN mistaken as clumsiness or a sign of low intelligence, dyspraxia is more common than a lot of people realise. Liz Connor finds out more.
WRITING, typing, riding a bike, driving a car, doing DIY around the home – these are just a few of the everyday activities that can be more tricky for people with dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder (DCD), as it’s now more commonly known.
The motor-skills disorder affects coordination and can make it difficult for people to plan and process motor tasks. Despite the fact it’s quite common however, dyspraxia is often poorly understood and sometimes confused for a sign of low intelligence or clumsiness – but there’s actually no connection between DCD and low IQ. In fact, it’s widely thought that Albert Einstein had it.
Dyspraxia is believed to affect around 10pc of the population, meaning it’s likely that one child in every classroom will have it – although it’s often not officially recognised until adulthood. It’s also thought to be around three or four times more likely in boys than girls, and sometimes runs in families.
What is dyspraxia?
Although the causes aren’t fully understood, dyspraxia affects the planning and processing of movements and coordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.
The NHS describes dyspraxia as a ‘condition affecting physical coordination that causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for his or her age, and appear to move clumsily’. Carrying out coordinated movements, however simple they may seem, is actually a complex process in the brain, involving many different nerves and parts of the cerebrum – and even the slightest glitch in the process can make something as simple as pouring a glass of juice, or tying a knot, more difficult.
Experts are not clear as to why motor coordination doesn’t develop as well as other abilities in children with dyspraxia, although there are a few risk factors that may be associated with it. These include being born prematurely or with a low birth weight, having a family history of dyspraxia, and alcohol or substance abuse during pregnancy.