Understanding Dyspraxia in Schools

8th October-14th October is dyspraxia awareness week. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder described as a delay in motor skills development. As well as this, there are many other difficulties that a child with dyspraxia may experience. Farmer, Echenne and Bentourkia (2016) identified three core sub-groups of difficulties related to dyspraxia, including:

  • Clumsiness and other co-ordination difficulties.
  • Self-esteem and peer relation difficulties
  • Language difficulties and orofacial dyspraxia

It appears that a child with dyspraxia may have difficulties due to a range of reasons, so it is important for teachers and other staff involved with the child to have an awareness of these difficulties. Parvin & Szmalec (2016) argue that awareness is increasing in the United Kingdom. Parents, teachers and doctors are now all much more aware of dyspraxia; with some of the very complex symptoms now being identified in early years children.

The areas that a child with dyspraxia may struggle with, include:

  • Handwriting
  • Tying Shoe-Laces
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Reading
  • Organisation
  • Working Memory
  • Speech and Language
  • Peer Relationships
  • Stress and anxiety


dyspraxiaDyspraxia is often diagnosed alongside other co-morbid conditions, most frequently dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Often, it is difficult for psychologists to investigate dyspraxia experimentally as it often presents with ASD. In fact, the rate of co-morbidity is high enough that Pauc (2005) suggested that dyspraxia, dyslexia, ASD and ADHD all be downgraded from disorders, to symptoms of a single disorder. Despite this, in research many differences between dyspraxia and autistic spectrum disorder, including working memory and gestural performance (Cacola, Miller & Williamson, 2017) which suggests they need to be separate conditions. This is an ongoing debate in psychology: but it is important to remember that neurodiversity can work along a spectrum: with many children presenting with symptoms from many different disorders.

Written by Lauren Milton-McNally


Cacola, P., Miller, H., & Williamson, P. (2017).  Behavioral comparisons in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Coordination Disorder: A systematic literature review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 38, 6-18. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2017.03.004

Farmer, M., Echennne, B., & Bentourkia, M. (2016). Study of clinical characteristics in young subjects with Developmental coordination disorder. Brain and Development. 38, (6), 538-547.  doi:10.1016/j.braindev.2015.12.010

Parvin, C. Szmalec, J., & Podgórska-Jachnik, D. (2016). Dyspraxia/DCD – Problem Review on the Basis of British Experience., Human and Social Sciences at the Common Conference, 4,143 – 146, DOI: 10.18638/hassacc.2016.4.1.202


Pauc, R. (2005). Comorbidity of dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette’s syndrome in children: A prospective epidemiological study. Clinical Chiropractic, 8(4), 189-198. doi:10.1016/j.clch.2005.09.007


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