Behavioural problems and learning disabilities


What is dyspraxia?

The terms dyspraxia and apraxia are derived from the word praxis. This is the ability to plan, organise and execute a series of unfamiliar actions. Normally, after doing them a few times, your brain can organise certain actions in a way as to make them automatic. Consequently, you don't have to consciously think about how to tie your shoelaces, for instance. Healthy children develop this system in the first five years of their life, but in those with dyspraxia or apraxia, something goes wrong in the brain.

Dyspraxia and apraxia

Dyspraxia means that a child has problems with the praxis before the age of five, so before the system has developed. In the case of apraxia, the system is already developed, but it is affected by brain damage. People with dyspraxia or apraxia often appear to be clumsy. When they engage in activities they seem to be doing them for the first time. They can carry out the movements (nothing is wrong with their muscles), but they cannot coordinate them properly. Things that come naturally to someone who is healthy are difficult for someone with praxis problems. Examples in this respect are dressing and undressing, eating without spilling, telling a coherent story, cycling, throwing or catching a ball, reading and writing. Because they are unable to do things automatically, they actually have to relearn the action over and over again by imitating someone else step by step.

Dyspraxia is common in infantile encephalopathy (IE). Apraxia occurs along with disorders such as advanced multiple sclerosis (MS) and advanced Parkinson's disease.

Symptoms related to dyspraxia and apraxia

People with dyspraxia or apraxia usually suffer only some of the symptoms, not all of them. Some symptoms can be overcome, others reduce over time, in some cases some persist.

There are different types of dyspraxia. Sometimes the whole body is involved; sometimes specific areas are affected, such as in the case of verbal dyspraxia. Furthermore, a distinction can be made between so-called concept dyspraxia and performance dyspraxia/developmental dyspraxia. In the case of concept dyspraxia, a child does not understand the ‘concept’ of an action. In the worst case, it doesn't even understand what certain objects, such as scissors or cutlery, are for. Performance dyspraxia/developmental dyspraxia is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). This is the most common type of dyspraxia. People with DCD have difficulty organising and performing actions. They know how to do it, but cannot put it into practice.



Nicky (4) beats speech disorder

During her second visit she already uttered her first words

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