Sunday, February 7, 2010

Developmental dyspraxia

Developmental dyspraxia is one or all of a heterogeneous range of development disorders affecting the initiation, organization, and performance of action.

Developmental dyspraxia entails the partial loss of the ability to coordinate and perform certain purposeful movements and gestures. It may be diagnosed in the absence of other motor or sensory impairments like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.

Dyspraxia is an SpLD (specific learning difficulty) so it does not affect overall IQ or ability, it just affects particular aspects of development. Indeed, in some families, unusually high IQ and dyspraxia are associated, with nearly everyone with dyspraxia in the family also having a postgraduate degree. The view that dyspraxia is associated with below-average intelligence is potentially damaging in two ways; it can prevent people who are otherwise obviously able from obtaining appropriate help, and it can mean that people diagnosed with dyspraxia are treated as globally learning-disabled when they can be very able in other areas.

The concept of developmental dyspraxia has existed for more than a century, but differing interpretations of the terminology remains.

The Dyspraxia Foundation defines developmental dyspraxia as "an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. The term dyspraxia comes from the word praxis, which means 'doing, acting'. Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought."

Developmental dyspraxia (referred to as developmental coordination disorder (DCD) in the US and Europe) is a life-long condition that is more common in males than in females, with a ratio of approximately 4 males to every female. The exact proportion of people with the disorder is unknown since the disorder can be difficult to detect due to a lack of specific laboratory tests, thus making diagnosis of the condition one of elimination of all other possible causes/diseases. Current estimates range from 5% - 20% with 5-6% being the most frequently quoted percentage in literature(Gaines, Missiuna,Egan & McLean 2008). Ripley, Daines, and Barrett state that "Developmental dyspraxia is difficulty getting our bodies to do what we want when we want them to do it", and that this difficulty can be considered significant when it interferes with the normal range of activities expected for a child of their age. Madeleine Portwood; a Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist employed by Durham County Council, UK, and author of Developmental Dyspraxia--A Practical Manual for Parents and Professionals; makes the distinction that dyspraxia is not due to a general medical condition, but that it may be due to immature neuron development. The word "dyspraxia" comes from the Greek words "dys" meaning impaired or abnormal and "praxis", meaning action or deed.

Dyspraxia is described as having two main elements:

Ideational dyspraxia

Difficulty with planning a sequence of coordinated movements.

Ideo-Motor dyspraxia

Difficulty with executing a plan, even though it is known.