What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia affects up to 6% of the population, but do we know much about it?

Dyspraxia, or developmental coordination disorder, is a neurological disorder that affects physical coordination, and the ability to perform motor tasks. I remember the first time I properly heard of dyspraxia, I was about thirteen and one of my friends in secondary school was diagnosed. I thought it was strange at the time, and didn’t really understand it at all. During the first year of my studies at Lincoln in 2018, I went to see Student Wellbeing and was referred for dyspraxia testing, and was then diagnosed. It was strange understanding all my ‘quirks’ I’d had up until then had all been because of dyspraxia, and learning more about it helped me understand myself so much better. 

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Main Symptoms

Everyone who has dyspraxia will experience it differently, and some symptoms may present milder than others. I’ll list some of the main symptoms and then explain in more depth how they may present. 

  • You may have poor coordination, movement and balance
  • You may have poor memory
  • You may learn in different ways to other people
  • Tasks such as writing, typing, and grasping small objects like pens and pencils may be more difficult
  • You may find it harder to regulate your emotions
  • Social situations may be a challenge for you
  • You may have issues with organisation and time-management

This list is not exhaustive,  but they’re a good indicator as to whether someone may have dyspraxia. 

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How do the symptoms present?

Poor coordination, movement and balance could mean someone being unable to keep their balance when standing or walking, a feeling of ‘dizziness’, or falling and tripping over more than the average person. Someone with dyspraxia may also have difficulty playing sports that involve good coordination, like rounders or tennis. 

People with dyspraxia may have memory, organisation and time management issues. These can lead to wider issues within the workplace or in education, and lead to feelings of frustration and sadness. They may forget important information, or not leave enough time to get ready in the morning before leaving for work or school. 

Dyspraxia can affect your hands, meaning your handwriting might be scruffy or scrawled, and you find it painful to write for long amounts of time. Due to this, dyspraxic students can get help with using a computer during exams, or have a scribe if needed. 

You can find out more about how the symptoms of dyspraxia present, and get help and advice on the Dyspraxia Foundation website

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Does having dyspraxia mean I’m unintelligent?

Nope! Although your motor skills are affected, your intelligence and ability to learn and develop are not affected. It’s a common misconception that people with dyspraxia are unintelligent, but to prove that wrong, here is a list of successful people who have the condition. 

  • Daniel Radcliffe – Star of the Harry Potter franchise, vice president of a children’s hospital, worked with the Trevor Project to help LGBTQ people.
  • Florence Welch – Singer from Florence + The Machine, advocates for dyspraxia in their interviews, won 2010 British Album of The Year award and 2009 Critics Choice award. 
  • Emma Lewell-Buck – South Shields Labour MP, spoke about their struggles with dyspraxia at the launch of Neurodivergent Labour which is an initiative to fight for the rights for neurodivergent people.
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