Dyspraxia is a life-altering disorder that affects up to six percent of the general population. Unfortunately, symptoms are often elusive and difficult to pinpoint. It is also called developmental coordination disorder because it affects the coordination and movements of patients. However, these are not the only symptoms of dyspraxia. A wide range of mental and physical problems can occur, though some are more common or severe than others. Symptoms typically begin in childhood when they are at their worst, but difficulties can last a lifetime.
Every patient will require dyspraxia treatment. However, it is vital to note that treatment for dyspraxia is for symptom management, as this condition is currently incurable. Many patients will receive occupational therapy for dyspraxia. Some individuals have also undergone cognitive behavioral therapy for dyspraxia. A common natural remedy for dyspraxia is to get regular exercise, which can make symptoms more manageable. However, patients need to understand the symptoms of dyspraxia before treatment for it to be effective.
One of the more apparent symptoms of dyspraxia is poor posture. Many different factors influence this symptom. Children with this condition seem to experience poor posture more than adults. However, any dyspraxia patient can have this symptom. One possible reason for this is that both muscle tone and learning are affected in most patients with this disorder. Posture and movement are often learned at a young age through imitating others. The ability to imitate and learn how to stand correctly can be more difficult for dyspraxia patients because this condition affects their learning and other cognitive abilities.
Weak muscle tone in this condition can also contribute to poor posture because individuals use postural muscle tone to stand straight and balance themselves. Doctors often attempt to use strength training and neuromuscular training to correct this in dyspraxia patients. However, there are differing opinions in regards to the effectiveness of these treatments.
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Poor Hand-Eye Coordination
Those with dyspraxia often have poor hand-eye coordination, which can make even simple tasks seem extremely difficult. When most individuals are using their hands and eyes together to perform an action, they can begin moving their hands towards something before their eyes have fully focused on it. This is known as feed-forward control. In various studies involving eye-tracking technology, dyspraxia patients have been found to behave differently in this regard. Many do not move their hands and eyes simultaneously when reaching for something.
Instead, they must focus their eyes on an object first before their hands begin to move towards the object. These individuals also sometimes have difficulty with keeping their focus on objects. In some cases, vertical movement of the eyes may also be slower than horizontal movement. Disengaging attention, meaning to focus on something else when needed, can also be slow. Any of these impairments or a combination of them all can greatly contribute to poor hand-eye coordination in dyspraxia patients.
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Dyspraxia can affect a patient's perception skills in different ways. Individuals with this condition sometimes have difficulty telling the difference between things they see, feel, hear, taste, or smell. For example, when most individuals use their sense of touch, they can differentiate between two different textures they feel. Researchers have found that dyspraxia patients are often very slow at recognizing these types of differences.
Some health experts believe that these perception issues explain why dyspraxia patients under their care often have difficulty with certain tasks. When handwriting, many of them pause frequently. They seemingly have to think or physically coordinate what they will write next. Some experts have suggested that this may be due to perception issues relating to both touch and sight in dyspraxia. In order to plan movements, individuals normally use their senses while planning the action. When the senses are not giving correct information to the brain, such as in dyspraxia, the movement itself is then affected.
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As mentioned, dyspraxia affects a patient's movement and coordination. Thus, clumsiness is an extremely common sign of this disorder. In fact, it is so common that many doctors used to call this condition 'clumsy child syndrome.' Many dyspraxia patients have trouble balancing themselves while walking or keeping steady or sequenced movements. They may also constantly drop things that they are holding. This is often because hypotonia, which is also called weak muscle tone, is commonly found in dyspraxia patients.
Not surprisingly, impairments in hand-eye coordination and perception may also contribute to this clumsiness. Clumsiness is one of the most life-disrupting symptoms for patients suffering from this disorder. It can make it difficult for adults to do their jobs effectively. Children may have trouble performing simple tasks in school. As this symptom often starts early on in childhood and can last an entire lifetime, dyspraxia patients often struggle for many years with self-esteem issues as a result.
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Difficulties Learning New Skills
Although this condition does not normally affect a patient's overall intelligence, individuals with dyspraxia often have difficulties learning new skills. One reason for this is that their visual-spatial working memory is commonly affected. This is the ability to remember colors, shapes, and where things are located. A patient's short-term memory is often worse than long-term memory. Recalling simple things, such as single words, names, or numbers, can also be difficult for dyspraxia patients. Individuals with this condition cannot learn things as quickly as others since their memory is affected.
In the past, this disorder has been viewed as being mainly a coordination problem. However, it is just as much a learning disorder. In addition to memory problems, dyspraxia is often associated with other conditions that can affect learning and memory. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both found to be overlap in some dyspraxia patients. Both of these disorders affect memory and learning as well and can contribute to difficulties learning new skills.