Is My Child Dyspraxic?

Dyspraxia is a condition that affects fine and/or gross motor coordination. Dyspraxic children may perform poorly in activities expected of their age and may appear clumsy. This is because they tend to have difficulties in the ideation, planning, and/or execution of physical movements. Dyspraxia is not merely a movement disorder. Apart from the more obvious signs of poor coordination, balance and fine motor skills, children with dyspraxia may also experience poor memory and focus and may struggle to plan and complete tasks. This may make them poor timekeepers as well.

Common Symptoms of Dyspraxia

Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Difficulty in applying existing motor skills to new motor activities
  • Difficulty in learning exercise steps or dance routines
  • Difficulty in keeping still
  • Difficulty walking up and down stairs
  • Struggling when buttoning clothes or tying shoelaces
  • Struggling with motor tasks that include more than one step
  • Struggling with drawing, coloring, or copying
  • Struggling when playing with toys that require fine motor skills (e.g. blocks)
  • Poor performance in ball games and other sports

Tools Therapists Use to Test for Dyspraxia

The best assessment tool for dyspraxia is the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT). It is designed to assess children from the ages of 4 to 8 and can only be used by trained therapists. Therapists who do not use the SIPT may use other motor skill assessment tools to obtain the necessary information, such as:

  • Parent history questionnaires
  • Sensory questionnaires (e.g. Sensory Processing Measure or Sensory Profile)
  • Standardized motor assessments (e.g. Movement ABC (MABC) or the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT-2))
  • Visual-motor integration assessments (e.g. Beery VMI or the Developmental Test of Visual Perception)
  • Handwriting assessments
  • Observation of play, including imaginary play

What do Therapists Look Out For when Checking for Dyspraxia?

  • Does the child struggle to think up ideas for play, craft, or construction? For example, can they make up a game to play with their toys? Can they think of an idea for a picture when drawing? Can they come up with something to build when playing with blocks?
  • Does the child have issues with tactile discrimination? For example, can they process things that they touch without looking at them? Are they aware of being touched? Are they overly sensitive to touch (tactile defensiveness)?
  • Can the child think up, plan, and execute their ideas? For example, if they have the idea of building a house using toys blocks, can they figure out where the blocks should be placed? If they have the idea of drawing a car, can they draw it? If they draw a car, can they generalize the plan to draw a bus? Can they make something if given the materials and an idea? If asked to tidy up an area, can they organize items on their own without the help of very specific instructions?
Now that you understand more about dyspraxia, you may have a better idea of whether your child requires a dyspraxia assessment. Although there is no cure for dyspraxia, people with this condition can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their abilities with the appropriate therapies.