Dyspraxia 159

movements. It causes an underdevelopment of the brain in which messages are not properly transmitted to the body, producing a number of problems in physical and thinking areas. It affects at least 2 percent of the population in varying degrees; 70 percent of those affected are male. Dyspraxia can be subtle or more pronounced, and often a person's disability is not readily apparent.

The term is also commonly used in the field of speech-language therapy to describe the condition of developmental verbal dyspraxia, in which a child has significant problems in producing speech sounds and sequencing sounds into words. This condition may also be accompanied by a difficulty in making and coordinating the physical movements required to produce speech, called oral dyspraxia. There are many other types of dyspraxia, including:

• Ideomotor Inability to perform single motor tasks, such as combing hair or waving good-bye

• Ideational Difficulty with multilevel tasks, such as taking the proper sequence of steps for brushing teeth

• Dressing Problems with dressing and putting clothes on in order

• Constructional Difficulty with spatial relations

• Verbal Problems and delay with expressive language


Dyspraxia causes a range of symptoms such as coordination problems (awkwardness, clumsiness, trouble with hopping, skipping, throwing and catching a ball, or riding a bike). There may be confusion about which hand to use for tasks, problems with holding a pen or pencil properly, and sensitivity to touch (the child may find some clothes uncomfortable; there may be an intolerance to having hair or teeth brushed, or nails and hair cut). In addition, there may be problems with short-term memory, trouble with reading and writing, poor sense of direction, speech problems, phobias, or obsessive behavior.

While older children may be verbally adept, they may not develop the social skills to get along with their peers. While children with dyspraxia can be of average or above average intelligence, they often have immature behavior. Logic and reasoning may be challenging.

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