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Dyspraxia (Co-ordination Disorder)

What is it? 

Dyspraxia is also called the Developmental Co-ordination Disorder. A person with dyspraxia will find it hard to coordinate their movements and handle small objects. They may also have poor spatial awareness.

Problems with motor co-ordination mean that the person will have poor orientation and judgement of space. They will also not be fully aware of their personal space and appropriate social interaction.

What to look out for 

A person with dyspraxia may also have problems with performing small movements such as:

  • handwriting
  • fastenings
  • threading a needle

They may also have difficulties with larger movements involved in activities such as:

  • playing sports
  • driving
  • domestic chores)

Some people with dyspraxia also have poor posture and be often physically tired. 

Many forms of dyspraxia will be quite mild and will appear just as clumsiness. But more severe forms of dyspraxia will mean a severe disability.

What to do 

The strategies for dealing with dyspraxia will be different for people who have more severe dyspraxia and people who have a milder form. Some strategies to support a person with dyspraxia can include:

  • Orientation and directional support
  • Develop turn-taking skills
  • Reduce the need for the client to carry piles of books, paper or other materials.
  • Provide processes (flow charts) to support task analysis.
  • Provide arm rests when client needs steady hand for computer or other equipment use.
  • Limit the amount of writing/note-taking requirement.
  • Rooms should be uncluttered providing clear track to the exit.
  • Avoid cluttered paperwork/forms etc.
  • Training to use machinery such as photocopiers and PC.
  • Make use of assistive technology.
  • Provide frequent opportunities to practice a task or procedure.
  • Consult Occupational Therapist for advice regarding specialist equipment.

You can also advise a person with dyspraxia to employ the following strategies to help them with their difficulty:

  • Care when judging distances
  • Care to regulate voice volume
  • Care when using equipment (razor, iron etc).
  • Care when carrying equipment (trays of hot drinks for example).
  • Care in dressing and presentation.
  • Practice common tasks that require good fine motor skills.
  • Practice handling instruments or tools.
  • Use trays to organise work desk and home equipment and label cupboards with contents.
  • Pick out landmarks to support orientation and look for signs to follow on return journey.
  • Use PC rather than writing by hand.
  • Make use of assistive technology.
  • Use mnemonics to help you to remember the sequence of a procedure – what you have to do and in what order.
  • Use diagrams and visual aids to support sequencing.
  • Consult Occupational Therapist for specialist equipment.