By Erica Patino
The vocabulary teachers and doctors use to describe movement issues and dyspraxia can be tricky. Here are eight key terms and what they mean.
A term often used interchangeably with dyspraxia, which is also referred to as developmental dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. It can cause trouble with a variety of simple motor tasks, like waving goodbye, or more complex tasks like brushing teeth.
A speech disorder that makes it hard to pronounce words and express thoughts clearly. It’s sometimes called apraxia of speech or referred to as dyspraxia, too. Children with verbal apraxia usually can understand what others say, but they struggle to find the right words to express themselves when they speak. Verbal apraxia isn’t muscle weakness in the mouth, tongue or lips. It’s caused by the complex ways the brain processes information to formulate language.
A type of dyspraxia that makes it hard to understand spatial relationships. Children with constructional dyspraxia may have difficulty copying shapes and figures, assembling three-dimensional puzzles or playing with blocks.
A type of dyspraxia that makes it difficult to coordinate the muscle movements needed to pronounce words. Kids with oromotor dyspraxia may repeat the same sound over and over in an effort to get it to sound right. They may also have trouble controlling saliva (which can cause drooling) and have slurred, difficult-to-understand speech. Unlike verbal apraxia, oromotor dyspraxia does involve muscle weakness in the mouth.
Abilities required to control the small muscles in the fingers and hands. Children with dyspraxia usually have poor manual dexterity. It might be hard for them to grasp a pencil, use scissors, button a jacket, tie shoes or close zippers.
Skills that involve coordination of larger groups of muscles, such as arms, legs or the whole body. People with dyspraxia often have underdeveloped gross motor skills. This can make them appear clumsy. They may struggle to do things like kick or bounce a ball or ride a bicycle.
Abilities required to receive and interpret information from surroundings and respond with an appropriate movement. For example, adjusting walking speed in response to a slippery or slanted road. Kids with dyspraxia may lack these skills.
Any kind of activity that encourages full-body movement. Physicians often encourage kids with dyspraxia to engage in “active play,” such as dancing or a game of hide-and-seek. Activities like these help kids develop motor skills and can also improve social skills.
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Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
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