What Are The Symptoms Of Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder (DCD) that affects the fine and gross motor abilities in both children and adults. Dyspraxia inhibits a person’s ability to undertake physical tasks and activities. In some cases, it can also impact speech. Many with dyspraxia experience cognitive, emotional, and social difficulties, and may have difficulties with memory, perception, and processing of information. Dyspraxia is recognized by the World Health Organization as a motor disability.

Because of their limited motor skills, children and adults with dyspraxia will find it difficult to participate in a range of educational, work, and socializing activities. They will usually require assistance in daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. For some, functioning can improve over time, making them able to handle more physical tasks on their own.1


What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dyspraxia?

Symptoms of dyspraxia can be present from an early age. Parents or caregivers of babies under 12 months who notice two or more of these symptoms should consult a pediatrician:

  • Struggles with simple motor tasks like feeding or rolling over
  • Tends to be irritable and/or sensitive to sounds
  • Tends to be restless and is constantly beating his/her hands and legs

A child aged 1–3 with dyspraxia will have the following symptoms:

  • Fails to develop language skills
  • Is not able to crawl or walk
  • Has problems with toilet training
  • Finds it difficult to grasp and hold objects
  • Tends to be excitable and cries frequently
  • Is prone to shrill screaming and frequent temper tantrums
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Avoids toys or games
  • Does not prefer to be in the company of peers
  • Is slow to comprehend and non-responsive when spoken to

In some cases, symptoms may go unnoticed or may not be severe until the child starts school. Symptoms of dyspraxia for children up to the age of 10 may include:

  • Trouble with adjusting to a school routine
  • Inability to perform simple motor tasks like tying shoelaces
  • Trouble with dressing self
  • Difficulty in handwriting, drawing, and similar tasks
  • Difficulty in sitting still in the classroom environment
  • Inability to concentrate and listen
  • Inability to form friendships and mingle with peers
  • Inability to understand classroom instructions
  • Occasional loss of bladder control

Symptoms observed in adults with dyspraxia may include:

1. Gross Motor Skills

  • Difficulties in balance, frequent falling
  • Poor posture
  • Fatigue and inability to stand or walk for long periods of time because of weak muscle tone
  • Clumsy gait and movement
  • Difficulties with hand-eye coordination

2. Fine Motor Skills

  • Difficulties using hand tools like spoons, forks, knives, or other simple instruments like nail cutters
  • Trouble with writing or typing
  • Difficulties with grooming and other personal activities

3. Language

  • Difficulty in organizing and articulating thoughts
  • Unclear speech with poor pronunciation of certain words
  • High-pitched voice

4. Eye movements

  • Poor eye tracking
  • Inability to make eye-to-eye contact during conversation

5. Learning, Memory, And Perception

  • Inability to grapple with numeracy and literacy skills
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Slowness with tasks
  • Inability to remember with frequent forgetfulness
  • Issues with light perception
  • Issues with spatial skills, and may not be able to follow directions
  • Poor body perception

6. Emotional And Social Behavior

  • May not be very sociable
  • May dislike going out with large groups
  • Shows impulsive behavior that may turn aggressive at times
  • Tends to get over-anxious
  • May occasionally show symptoms of depression

Anyone who shows some or all of the above symptoms should see a physician – they may then refer the patient to a neurologist or neuropsychiatrist. Diagnosis is purely clinical as there is no stock lab or imaging test for this condition.23


There is no cure or available medical treatment for dyspraxia. Some children with dyspraxia also have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and they may be given medications to control this. In most cases, therapists, parents, and caregivers are usually advised to develop a task-oriented approach toward helping children and adults with dyspraxia achieve a certain level of physical coordination and functioning.4


Sometimes children outgrow some of these symptoms and improve their motor skills by adulthood. However, they may still need help with various functional activities and may not be able to live completely independently. Those with dyspraxia will want to seek help from speech pathologists and therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Therapies focused on achieving basic, daily tasks are the best way for both children and adults to gain some sense of independence.