Dyspraxia: this insidious disorder that complicates the lives of children

The dyspraxia is a psychomotor development disorder characterized by a difficulty of initiation, planning and finalization of a complex gesture. It causes a handicap in the daily life and in the apprenticeships.

Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental disorder listed in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Illness (DSM-V) as a coordination acquisition disorder. The coordination between sensory perceptions (especially the gaze) cognitive abilities (language, memory) and executive (attention, planning), and finally the motor resources, is not good. This causes difficulties in the realization of complex gestures: writing, clothing, circulation in the environment, etc. These difficulties are not explained by a visual, auditory or motor difficulty.

In dyspraxia, gestures and movements are clumsy, slow and fluctuating in efficiency. Why ? Because these movements, in principle automated, are not in the dyspraxic person. The movements are applied as if it were the first time, without ease or fluidity. If this coordination disorder is understood from a neurological point of view, it is nonetheless dependent on environmental elements. Stress, for example, can help block the spontaneity of the gesture, and thus promote dyspraxia.

There are several types of dyspraxia that manifest themselves to varying degrees: difficulties of manipulation, imitation, assembly and spatial construction, difficulties of dressing, and even oral-linguo-facial dyspraxia (difficulty breathing, whistling, etc.

Dyspraxia is one of the "dys", a specific disorder of learning. It concerns about 5-7% of children in France. It is frequently associated with one or more other "dys", such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia. Dyspraxia is not a serious disorder, but taking care of it helps to avoid consequences such as academic failure or loss of self-esteem.

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Author : Dr. Ada Picard, child psychiatrist in Paris

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