What is ‘dyspraxia’?

The term ‘dyspraxia’ is used in many different ways by different people, which can cause confusion. Some use it interchangeably with ‘DCD’ to mean the same thing. Others use it to refer to something quite different. Unlike DCD, there is no internationally agreed formal definition or description of the term ‘dyspraxia’ and it is not included in DSM-5. Despite this, in the UK the term ‘dyspraxia’ is sometimes used in a very broad way to refer to children who have motor difficulties plus difficulties with: speech, organisation, planning, sequencing, working memory and various other psychological, emotional and social problems. However, there is little research evidence to support such a broad diagnostic category. At what age should a diagnosis of DCD be given?

Consultant pediatrician Dr Chelvi who primarily focuses on autism treatment in children says it is not recommended for a formal diagnosis of DCD to be given before 5 years of age. This is because there is a lot of variation in children’s development before this age and also variations in the opportunities children have to experience motor skill. However, this does not mean that a child who appears to be delayed in their motor skills before the age of 5 should not be closely monitored, or some form of intervention given. The child can be informally noted as having movement difficulties and appropriate actions taken to support the child’s needs.