Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that affects about 10% of children.  In the past it has been referred to as the Clumsy Child Syndrome or Developmental Coordination Disorder.  Unfortunately, most think that Dyspraxia is only related to motor planning deficits (coming up with an idea, planning out the idea, and executing the idea), but it's much more than that.  Children with Dyspraxia often have above average intelligence, but their brains don't process information accurately, and therefore they have difficulty with motor, perception, and memory skills. 

Characteristics of Dyspraxia Birth – Age 3
  • Irritable, easily distressed, difficult to comfort
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Delayed milestones (motor and language)
  • Fleeting attention
  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Feeding problems (excess drooling, incoordination)
  • Limited babbling
  • Limited sounds in repertoire
  • Avoids constructive play (building)
Characteristics of Dyspraxia - Preschool Child
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills or tool use
  • Difficulty with self-help tasks
  • Avoids creative or constructive play
  • Limited imaginative play
  • Difficulty with verbal instruction
  • Limited language abilities (receptive higher than expressive)
  • Messy eater
  • Difficulty with peer interactions
  • Possible behavioral issues
  • Possible sensory issues
Characteristics of Dyspraxia – School Age Child
  • Difficulty following school routine
  • Difficulty with multi-step directions and multi-tasking
  • Difficulty with self-care skills
  • Fine motor delays, handwriting deficits
  • Visual-motor and visual perceptual deficits
  • Delayed gross motor skills, difficulty with physical education class
  • Deficits with reading and spelling
  • Poor social skills
  • Immaturity and difficulty establishing peer relationships
  • Difficulty in speech control (volume, articulation, intonation)


As Dyspraxia is a neurological condition, it is important for you to find a neurologist that is familiar with this diagnosis.  Dyspraxia often co-exists with other disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, Apraxia, ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, and Dyslexia. 

Below are some strategies that you may incorporate into your daily activities to facilitate progress:

  • Repetition, repetition; your child may want to practice something 40 times before they master it
  • Incorporate imitation activities; imitation is a motor task and the goal is to motor sequence
  • Incorporate multi-sensory activities (movement, balance, coordination, sound, sight, etc.)
  • Use of rhythm can assist with timing of motor movements and sequencing (songs, familiar rhymes, making up your own rhythm/rhyme to assist with a new skill)
  • Encourage new play schemes; getting your child to play with the same toy in a variety of ways
  • Encourage assistance with familiar repetitive activities (helping set the table for dinner, independently getting ready for the day, etc.)
  • Use simple language; include concepts (over, under, on) and action words (jumping, running, rolling)
  • If your child is struggling with a motor task, help them through it
  • Facilitate peer interactions; children with Dyspraxia often prefer adults over children their own age
  • When at parks, assist your child as they move through the playground
  • Encourage participation in sports that focus on balance, strength, and coordination (swimming, karate, gymnastics)
  • Have your child evaluated by an occupational and physical therapist to identify their strengths and weaknesses
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