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What is Adult Dyspraxia?

author image Corey Leidenfrost
Corey Leidenfrost has been writing and working as a mental health therapist since 2001. His published works include college newsletters, articles for the "Batavia Daily News" and creative writing anthologies. He holds a Master of Arts in psychology from State University of New York-Brockport and is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Walden University.
What is Adult Dyspraxia?
An adult with dyspraxia may be prone to falls, tripping and bumping into objects or people. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Dyspraxia was first recognized as a disorder in the early 20th century as congenital maladroitness, according to Dyspraxia USA. The National Center for Learning Disabilities indicates that in the developmental form of dyspraxia, versus acquired, problems exist from birth and last a lifetime. Dyspraxia occurs in 6 percent of children, 70 percent of which are male. The disorder causes significant problems for an individual throughout his lifetime, as well as for his family.

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Dyspraxia consists of impairment in the brain’s ability to plan movement and then carry out a sensory or motor task, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Many different areas of functioning become affected by the disorder, all involving the development of both gross motor skills, such as waving, and fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil. By adulthood, the individual with developmental dyspraxia may have deficits in functioning in diverse areas, Dyspraxia USA indicates, including learning, physical, intellectual, emotional, social language and sensory. While individuals with this disorder tend to have average to above average intelligence, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders indicates that they often act immature.


The causes of developmental dyspraxia are unknown, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Acquired dyspraxia most often occurs in adulthood and arises due to damage to particular areas of the brain. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders identifies the following possible causes of acquired dyspraxia: stroke, head injury, tumor or some other illness affecting the brain.


The real-life consequences for an adult with dyspraxia may span many areas. The National Center for Learning Disabilities identifies some of these areas of difficulty, including driving a car; completing chores; cooking; grooming; writing; typing; control of volume, pitch and articulation of speech; and problems with consistent perception, such as light, touch, taste, space and smell. Further consequences of dyspraxia include development of low self-esteem associated with the many life difficulties faced and mental health problems.


As dyspraxia may affect many areas of functioning, symptoms may vary significantly, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. These symptoms may involve balance and coordination issues; visual problems; perception difficulties; problems writing, reading and speaking; poor social skills; poor posture; poor short-term memory; and emotional and behavioral problems. Dyspraxia USA identifies further symptoms grouped into different areas of skills. Problems with gross motor functioning may involve poor hand-eye coordination, problems with rhythm while dancing or doing aerobics and the tendency to fall and trip. Regarding fine motor skills, individuals may have problems with dexterity, issues dressing and grooming and problems grasping small objects. Problems with learning, thought and memory involve difficulties planning and organizing thought, bad memory and issues with concentration.


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke indicates that dyspraxia cannot be cured; therefore, treatment focuses on symptoms and providing support for the individual. The earlier intervention can occur, the better the outcome for the individual, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Interventions include occupational, speech and physical therapies aimed at improving day-to-day functioning. The National Center for Learning Disabilities indicates that working on tasks that involve easily accomplished physical activities may assist an individual in building coordination.

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