Dyspraxia vs ADHD: Differences & Overlaps

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Dyspraxia and ADHD are 2 types of neurodiversity that Exceptional Individuals provide services for. While they have differences between them, they also have similarities or overlaps between them. Find out more about the signs of dyspraxia and ADHD, their similarities, and differences, and if they co-occur.

What are the signs of dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a lifelong developmental co-ordination difference that affects fine and gross motor skills. It can even affect cognitive function. While there is no cure for dyspraxia, it can be successfully managed with therapies.

Signs of dyspraxia in babies and young children are as follows:

  • Delays in milestones such as lifting the head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, and potty training.
  • Unusual body positions
  • General irritability
  • Sensitivity to loud noises (also present in autism)
  • Feeding and sleeping problems
  • A high level of movement in arms and legs

As children become older, they may also experience the following signs:

  • Unusual posture
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills that affect writing, artwork, and playing with blocks or puzzles for instance.
  • Hand-flapping, fidgeting, or being easily excitable.
  • Messy eating and drinking.
  • Temper tantrums or meltdowns
  • Becoming less physically fit due to lack of interest in physical activities.
  • Co-ordination issues that make it difficult for the child to hop, skip, jump, or catch a ball.
  • Having a short attention span for complex tasks.

Signs of dyspraxia in adults can include the following:

  • Abnormal posture
  • Balance and movement issues, or gait abnormalities
  • Poor hand-eye co-ordination
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble learning new skills.
  • Problems with planning and organisation skills.
  • Difficulty with writing by hand or typing on a keyboard.
  • Difficulties with grooming and household chores.
  • Social awkwardness or lack of confidence

What are the signs of ADHD?

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a difference that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating, and may act impulsively.

Signs of ADHD are as follows:

  • Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsiveness

The signs of inattentiveness are:

  • Having a short attention span.
  • Being easily distracted.
  • Making careless mistakes, such as in schoolwork.
  • Forgetfulness
  • Losing things
  • Being unable to stick to tedious or time-consuming tasks.
  • Constantly changing activity or task
  • Difficulty with organising tasks

The signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings.
  • Constantly fidgeting.
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks (like inattentiveness).
  • Excessive physical movement
  • People being unable to wait their turn.
  • Excessive talking
  • Acting without thinking.
  • Interrupting conversations.
  • Little to no sense of danger.

While ADHD is mostly associated with children, adults can also experience it.

Signs of ADHD in adults can include:

  • Carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones.
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Inability to focus or prioritise.
  • Continuously losing or misplacing things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and edginess
  • Difficulty keeping quiet and speaking out of turn.
  • Blurting out responses and often interrupting others.
  • Mood swings, irritability, and having a quick temper.
  • Inability to deal with stress.
  • Extreme impatience
  • Taking risks in activities without being aware of putting themselves or others in danger, such as dangerous driving.

Are there similarities between dyspraxia and ADHD?

Similarities between dyspraxia and ADHD can include fidgeting and trouble paying attention, especially in children.

Dyspraxia and ADHD can also share the following similarities:

  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Hyperactivity
  • Interference with learning
  • Impacting on social skills.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impacting on family life
  • Difficulty completing tasks.

According to the Dyspraxia Foundation, around 50% of people with dyspraxia also have ADHD.

Both dyspraxia and ADHD are more common in males than females or those who identify as non-binary.

The overlap of dyspraxia and ADHD can be difficult because the symptoms of these conditions can be similar. It is still important to accurately diagnose both conditions because they require different treatments and interventions.

It is also important that co-occurring conditions are identified so that relevant needs for the person can be identified, and appropriate support can be provided for them.

If a person with dyspraxia and ADHD attends an educational placement such as school, college or university, personalised learning programmes can be tailored for them.

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One well-known person who has both dyspraxia and ADHD is Melanie Brown (AKA Mel B, pictured above) from the popular girl band Spice Girls. Speaking on The Truth Flirts podcast, she admitted to battling both types of neurodivergence. Mel B has also stated that her “brain [was] functioning differently,” she was worried that she was “very vulnerable,” and she was concerned that a potential partner could “take advantage” of her neurodivergent diagnoses.

What are the differences between dyspraxia and ADHD?

While dyspraxia is a motor disorder that affects the ability to plan and execute movements, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Dyspraxia often occurs in people who have no other neurological diagnoses. ADHD often occurs in people who have diagnoses other than dyspraxia, such as Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar affective disorder.

While dyspraxia is believed to be caused by problems with the way the brain processes information, ADHD is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The differences between dyspraxia and ADHD can make it difficult to diagnose one condition when the other is present. It is important to work with a qualified professional to receive an accurate diagnosis.

The woman who speaks in the Olive Tree Neurodiversity Coffee on the Couch episode about dyspraxia and ADHD (she is diagnosed with both) says that ADHD is different in girls than in boys. She also mentions that things that could not be explained with dyspraxia can be linked with ADHD. While her ADHD can make her feel adventurous on one hand, her dyspraxia can hold her back from doing adventurous things and stumbling into certain circumstances on the other hand.

Can dyspraxia and ADHD occur together?

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Yes, dyspraxia and ADHD can occur together. Both diagnoses are linked with executive function difficulties.

In 1999, Drew identified that dyspraxia and ADHD were increasingly seen to be linked to an impairment of the brain’s cognitive management functions as well as executive functions.

In 2003, Gillberg called the co-occurrence of dyslexia and ADHD deficit in attention and motor perception (DAMP).

People with co-occurring dyspraxia and ADHD can experience the following:

  • Struggles with attention span and distractibility.
  • Challenges with memory and organisation.
  • Emotional difficulties.

A person who suspects they have dyspraxia could receive a misdiagnosis of ADHD. Although the person could experience motor difficulties that are associated with dyspraxia, they could also experience the following non-motor symptoms that are mostly associated with ADHD:

  • Finding it hard to communicate in loud environments.
  • Difficulty with keeping track of time.
  • Challenges with reading non-verbal signs from someone else.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Being able to do only one task at a time.
  • Compulsive daydreaming.


While dyspraxia and ADHD can have different signs, they can also have similar signs. Dyspraxia is a motor-related diagnosis, whereas ADHD is a neurodevelopmental diagnosis. Both dyspraxia and ADHD can co-occur with each other. One condition can easily be misdiagnosed for another.

If you think you have ADHD or dyspraxia, you can take our ADHD quiz or dyspraxia quiz to see if you have any of the signs. Please note that these quizzes are not intended to diagnose ADHD or dyspraxia. Only a qualified professional can make formal diagnoses.

Blog Author

April Slocombe