Dyspraxia in children, or developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a common condition which principally affects motor co-ordination - the way the body organises and carries out movement-related tasks. It can also affect other activities, including speech. Dyspraxia also occurs in adults but this leaflet is about dyspraxia in children.

Dyspraxia means poor co-ordination, but the term 'dyspraxia' is widely used to describe developmental dyspraxia in children. Health professionals now call this development co-ordination disorder, to distinguish it from similar problems (also called dyspraxia) caused by other medical conditions - for example, movement problems after head injury or stroke. However, in this leaflet we will use the commonly used term 'dyspraxia' to refer to childhood DCD.

Additionally, dyspraxia in children is sometimes referred to by health professionals as 'specific developmental disorder of motor function' (SDDMF).

Although every student with dyspraxia experiences it differently, they often experience challenges in the areas outlined in the table below.

Gross motor skills

Fine motor coordination


  • balance and posture
  • coordination of the two sides of the body, which affects activities such as jumping or skipping
  • holding and manipulating small objects
  • handwriting, drawing
  • hand-­eye coordination
  • eye movements–looking to the board and back to exercise book
  • time management
  • thinking and language processing
  • short-­term memory
  • spatial skills
  • misunderstanding body language

Types of dyspraxia

Here are the different types of dyspraxia noticed in kids.

1. Ideomotor Dyspraxia

A child with ideomotor dyspraxia cannot perform simple single-steps tasks. For example, using a spoon or fork, pouring juice, kicking or throwing a ball, using pencils and scissors, waving etc.

2. Ideational Dyspraxia

This condition causes the child to have trouble with simple tasks like brushing his teeth, tying shoelaces, riding a cycle, etc., due to the inability to plan and execute tasks.

3. Oromotor Dyspraxia

Children with this condition have difficulty in pronouncing words as they cannot figure out how to move the muscles needed for speech. Hence it is also known as verbal apraxia.

4. Constructional Dyspraxia

Children with constructional dyspraxia have spatial difficulty. They have trouble in doing simple tasks, like copying from a board, playing Lego, solving puzzles, arranging objects, etc. These children cannot fit pieces together to make a whole object.


Signs and Symptoms



We don't know why some children have dyspraxia. However, for any human ability there is a broad range of 'normal', with an average, and some of us more or less able than others. Just as some children have much better co-ordination than average (including some who, for example, go on to become successful sportspeople or dancers), others may have much worse co-ordination. This means there is a wide spectrum of motor co-ordination development, from very poor to very good. When this development is markedly impaired, we term it dyspraxia, as we realise it represents a real challenge to your child.

A number of things have been suggested that may increase the risk of dyspraxia:

·      Dyspraxia seems to run in families, so it seems to have a genetic component - the way your child is 'made'. This suggests that, in some children, a less effective development of the motor nerves may be something that is pre-programmed into their genes.

·      Premature babies, particularly those of very low birth weight, seem to be at greater risk of dyspraxia.

·      There is evidence that exposure to high levels of alcohol, or to illegal drugs during pregnancy, can cause dyspraxia, although exposure to these toxins will have many other additional effects too.