Is Dyspraxia a Disability?

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Featured image by Helena Lopes,

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a neurodivergent condition that affects how the mind processes actions, usually affecting coordination and movement, balance, and organisation abilities. Motor difficulties include poor hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, which can make it difficult for people with dyspraxia to carry out everyday functions such as writing, cooking, and driving a car.

How does Dyspraxia affect people?

Dyspraxia does not affect a person’s intelligence, meaning they may have thoughts and ideas, but can struggle to express these coherently. This can lead to stammering or confused speech. People with dyspraxia often do not know they have this neurodivergence, and are often mistaken as ‘clumsy’. However, this can cause people with dyspraxia frustration and negative mental health, as they feel misunderstood or frustrated that they cannot express themselves clearly or perform tasks quickly.

How many people in the UK have Dyspraxia?

Statistics estimate that around 10% of the UK population (6.7 million people) have dyspraxia, with 2% of the population (1.3 million people) having dyspraxia which affects them ‘severely’. However, as dyspraxia is often misunderstood, these numbers may be higher.

Is Dyspraxia a Disability?

Dyspraxia (or Developmental Coordination Disorder DCD) is a neurodivergence which affects fine and gross motor skills, coordination, and processing. It is estimated that around 10% of the population has dyspraxia. As dyspraxia is a life long neurodivergent condition, it is protected under the Equality Act 2010 and disability law.

Support for dyspraxic pupils and students

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Image by Gustavo Fring,

While dyspraxia does not affect a person’s intelligence, difficulty processing information and using motor skills can impact on students’ progress and achievement, so it’s important that students with dyspraxia receive the support available to them.

For example, they could benefit from additional time in examinations to process the information, 1-1 support for subjects such as maths, clearer instructions in subjects such as food technology or woodwork, and consideration in sports.

Some people with dyspraxia can develop a stammer, as they can take longer to process their thoughts and explain themselves. This may be mistaken for a lack of confidence, so it’s important teachers give their students with dyspraxia time to respond.

Teachers can help school pupils with the following:

  • Allowing the student extra time to complete their tasks
  • Teaching a pupil in small bursts
  • Allowing the pupil to rest if necessary
  • Ensuring the pupil understands what they have been taught and to repeat if needed
  • Explaining a task verbally before demonstrating it, rather than doing both at the same time
  • Minimising distractions around the board
  • Setting homework at the beginning of the lesson
  • Teaching on a 1:1 basis, with minimal distractions, where appropriate

Support for dyspraxic adults at work

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Image by Tima Miroshnichenko,

As every individual is different, it is best for employers to speak with their employees 1-1 about how they can best support them. However, the following reasonable adjustments could help adults with dyspraxia make the most of their skills in the workplace:

  • Minimising handwritten tasks.
  • Using speech-to-text or other software, or a smartphone or a tablet, in particular tasks.
  • Breaking down tasks into smaller steps and demonstrating them.
  • Encouraging initial accuracy with a task and increasing the speed once the task has been accomplished.
  • Adapting or avoiding tasks that require the use of very good fine motor skills.
  • Providing guidance for organisation and planning where employers need to complete tasks to a deadline.

Dyspraxia as a hidden disability

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Image by Noelle Otto,

Dyspraxia is considered to be a hidden disability as the physical signs can be difficult to recognise. Dyspraxia is also less well known and often misunderstood, many people with dyspraxia do not realise they have the condition until later in life. For example, many people think they are simply ‘clumsy’, and as the condition does not affect intelligence, many people with dyspraxia can learn a wide range of skills, they just may have taken a little longer than other people.

To find out if you have traits of dyspraxia, try taking our online dyspraxia test.

Blog Author

April Slocombe

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