Areas of difficulty for the dyspraxic child

The most typically documented difficulties for a child with dyspraxia is difficulty doing motor tasks. For younger children, this seems to be what people notice most. However, children with dyspraxia, particularly older children also have a range of other difficulties, including organisational skills, social skills and self-esteem.

What to look for:

Pre-school child

A young child with dyspraxia is likely to appear clumsy and fall often, possibly bumping into doors or furniture or breaking toys or items unintentionally. A young child may appear delayed in developing their milestones, although this may or may not be noticeable and may or may not suggest dyspraxia. Some of the motor tasks a young child with dyspraxia may struggle with could include any of the following:

Feeding themselves, particularly managing spoons or cups without spilling

Pulling on socks or learning other dressing skills

Building blocks

Holding pencils/markers and copying simple shapes (e.g. lines and circles)

Throwing or catching ball

National school child

Difficulties for a school-going dyspraxic child tend to become more obvious, most likely because of the increased demands placed on them by the school day. Difficulties experienced by children with dyspraxia at school could include:

Handwriting, often illegible, or of poor quality. Children are likely to struggle with sizing and placing the letters on the line. Some children may complain of pain in their hands after larger qualities of handwriting.

Copying from the blackboard

Arts & Crafts activities, including, cutting, pasting and colouring

Completing work on time (some children with dyspraxia may manage tasks better than expected due to their desire to be as good as their peers but will often use a lot of energy to do this and will therefore be slower and tire easily)

Participating in PE lessons due to poor motor skills

Difficulties experienced by children with dyspraxia at home could include:

Getting dressed independently, particularly with managing buttons, fasteners, shoelaces etc.

Preparing their breakfast, particularly pouring liquids, eating without making a mess, tidying up after themselves.

Getting organised and ready in the morning before school. Remembering the right books or materials needed for school or outings.

Finding their shoes, tie or other belongings

Secondary school Child

The secondary school child may sometimes appear to have “resolved” the motor difficulties associated with dyspraxia, but they tend to have a whole range of difficulties unique to the adolescent with dyspraxia. Difficulties that a secondary school child may experience could include any of the following:

Difficulty managing handwriting – This is often the cause behind school results being lower than expected as adolescents with dyspraxia find they write slower than their peers and their hands tend to tire easily. As secondary school requires much more handwriting than national school this often becomes more of a problem in secondary school.

Difficulty managing their books, materials and so on. These adolescents are prone to forgetting their books at home or in their locker or to keep all their books in their schoolbag, often ending with dog-eared books, torn pages or lost notes.

Difficulty managing time - because of their difficulty getting themselves organised and their poor sense of time, adolescents with dyspraxia are often late for school or class or take longer to do tasks than they expected.

Difficulty mixing with peers – although there are many theories about why, the fact of the matter is that most adolescents with dyspraxia are socially isolated and tend to mix better with younger children or with adults. This may be because they have difficulty reading social cues and facial expressions or because people of different ages have different expectations for them.

Emotional Experience – although this cannot be described as a “difficulty”, it is important to understand the emotional experience of those with dyspraxia. Adolescents with dyspraxia tend to report experiences of frustration, worry, loneliness, discouragement and often reported headaches, stomach aches or other somatic experiences.