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Learn about the signs, strengths and challenges of Dyspraxia, and how you can get support.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), is a common neurodiverse condition which affects a person’s fine and/or gross motor coordination, as well as non-motor skills such as memory, organisation, and speech. This can have an impact on their ability to carry out everyday tasks and activities.

Dyspraxia is caused by a disruption in the way that messages are passed between the brain and the body. Whilst it’s not yet clear why this disruption occurs, being born prematurely, having a low weight at birth and coming from a family with a history of coordination difficulties increases the likelihood of someone having dyspraxia.

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It’s estimated that around 10% of people in the UK have dyspraxia. However, as it’s often misunderstood, these numbers may be higher.

Dyspraxia is considered to be a hidden disability because the signs that someone has dyspraxia can be hard to recognise. These signs of dyspraxia are present from a young age although may not be recognised until a child starts school – or potentially until adulthood.


Strengths of Dyspraxia

Like all neurodiverse conditions, people’s experience of dyspraxia will be unique to them and can be affected by their age, the opportunities they’ve had to learn new skills, their environment and the support they’ve had from people around them.

Common strengths of dyspraxia include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Empathy
  • Strategic, big-picture thinking
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Creativity
  • Drive

Challenges of Dyspraxia

The main characteristic of dyspraxia is difficulty in coordinating large and small body movements, however there are many other physical and mental challenges that people with dyspraxia may struggle with as well.

Common challenges associated with dyspraxia include:

  • Poor spatial awareness
  • Being awkward or clumsy in their movement
  • Difficulty learning and carrying out the movements required to complete practical tasks (such as writing, driving, or using certain tools)
  • Trouble organising themselves
  • Difficulty communicating their thoughts and ideas
  • Trouble concentrating and managing time
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Issues with speech (verbal dyspraxia is a distinct condition which can exist separately or alongside dyspraxia)
  • Anxiety in certain social situations
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Many adults with dyspraxia say that they have more difficulty with executive functioning tasks such as memory, organisation and time management than they do with their coordination skills.

The earlier dyspraxia is identified, the sooner support can be put in place to support an individual’s physical, learning, social and emotional needs, and help them reach their full potential.

What to do if you think you might have Dyspraxia

If you think you might have dyspraxia, the first step is to do your research and learn as much as you can about the condition.

We all experience challenges with different behaviours and tasks, but if you find you notice the characteristics of dyspraxia more prominently in your own experiences – and importantly, it is having a significant impact on your life – it’s best to take action to get support.

Assessment and diagnostic processes for dyspraxia differ for children and adults.

If you believe your child may have dyspraxia, make a note of your concerns and discuss them with a medical professional, your child’s teachers, and their school’s Special Needs Coordinator (Senco). Your child may be referred to an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, paediatrician or another health professional for further assessment.

As an adult, you will need a formal diagnosis to access support. Unfortunately, there is no agreed pathway for the diagnosis of dyspraxia in adults and it can be difficult to get an assessment without paying. If you are seeking a formal diagnostic assessment for dyspraxia, it’s best to contact a medical professional first.

However, you could access a needs-based assessment to identify strategies, approaches and tools to support you in your daily life. A needs-based assessment can be carried out by wide range of people, including your health advisor, GP, occupational therapist, disability advisors or specialist disability tutors if you are in education. A formal diagnosis of dyspraxia is not required for a needs-based assessment.

Visit the ‘What to do if you believe you might be neurodivergent’ page for more information.

Need support?

We know that when you’re struggling emotionally, practically and financially, often the hardest step to take is reaching out and asking for support. And these challenges can have even more of an impact if you’re neurodivergent. But everyone experiences challenges in life, and it’s important to remember that you are not alone – after all, there are thousands of neurodiverse engineers just like you around the world, many of whom may be in a similar situation.

Our support is here to help you live better and thrive – whatever your circumstances. So if you’re ready to get in touch with us, we’re ready to listen to your needs and offer whatever support we can.


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