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General Medical Questions
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Question : What is dyspraxia?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Claire McCarthy, M.D., a senior medical editor for Harvard Health Publications, is an assistant professor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She is an attending physician and Medical Communications Editor at Children's Hospital Boston.

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July 15, 2013
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Dyspraxia means not being able to do coordinated tasks. Basically, it’s a planning problem.

Whenever you want to do something — like putting on and buttoning a sweater, drawing a picture, or making a sandwich —  your body has to plan and carry out all the steps needed to do each one. For example, putting on a sweater involves getting the arms in the right armholes. Then matching up the buttons to the holes. Then getting the buttons through the holes. For a person with dyspraxia, this task can be overwhelming.

Developmental dyspraxia is a disability in which people have a hard time planning tasks that involve movements. They also may have visual, perceptual, behavioral, or emotional problems.

Even with average or better-than-average intelligence, children with developmental dyspraxia may have trouble with speech, reading, or writing. They may also  seem clumsy or awkward, act immature for their age, or have trouble interacting socially. So this can lead to school problems.

There’s no cure for developmental dyspraxia. But there are skills that parents and teachers can learn to help them lead more normal lives. Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and special education programs in school can make a big difference. That’s especially true if started when a child is as young as possible.

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