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What is dyspraxia?

By Gail Belsky

At a Glance

  • Dyspraxia refers to trouble with motor skills, balance, and coordination.

  • The term dyspraxia has been around a long time, but it isn’t an official diagnosis.

  • There are many ways to improve motor skills.

Dyspraxia is a term that refers to lifelong trouble with movement and coordination. It’s not a formal diagnosis. But you may still hear people use this term, especially in the U.K. The formal diagnosis is developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

People with these challenges can struggle with balance, coordination, and motor skills. These include:

  • Fine motor skills (for making small movements like using a pencil)

  • Gross motor skills (for making large movements like kicking a ball)

  • Motor planning (for doing multi-step tasks like tying a shoe)

The difficulties usually don’t exist on their own. People often have other challenges, too, including:

  • Transcription and handwriting difficulties, like dysgraphia

  • Sensory processing issues

  • Mental health issues, like anxiety

  • Slow processing speed

  • Autism

Struggles with motor skills can impact learning, working, and daily living. But people with dyspraxia are just as smart as other people. And there are many ways to help at home, at school, and on the job.

Dive deeper

The difference between dyspraxia and DCD

Some people use the terms dyspraxia and DCD interchangeably. But there’s a major difference between them: DCD is a formal and defined condition. Dyspraxia is not.

The diagnosis for difficulty with movement and coordination is developmental coordination disorder (DCD). DCD is a disorder that’s defined as an impairment in the learning of coordination and motor skills.

There’s no international agreement on a definition for dyspraxia. There are also no criteria for diagnosing it.

Learn more about the differences between dyspraxia and DCD , and how each term is used.

How to help with dyspraxia

The main treatment for dyspraxia is occupational therapy (OT). Occupational therapists work with people on different motor skills and physical tasks they struggle with. For example, they might help kids learn how to hold and use scissors or throw and catch a ball.

Physical therapy can also be part of a treatment plan for some people. Therapists can work on building body strength, if that’s part of a person’s trouble with movement.

People who struggle with movement may also get accommodations at school or at work. For example, they might use speech-to-text technology to help with writing tasks. 

Parents and caregivers: Learn ways to help your child with motor skills at home .

Educators: See a list of classroom accommodations for motor skills challenges .

If you struggle with motor skills: Learn more about workplace accommodations and other employee rights.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom