Skip to main content

Article published 10th June 2008

On first glance, children with dyspraxia may not seem different from other children around them, until they are asked, perhaps, to do a co-ordination task at speed.

Passing the ball in football might, literally, trip them up and the child may land in a heap on the pitch, and end up being the target of others’ laughter.

What can be tricky for the dyspraxic child?

Anxiety, concentration and understanding the rules may be problematic for a child with dyspraxia but controlling the ball and running may be too much. Making friends and keeping friends can also be hard and coping with others’ reactions can be as hard for you as a parent as for your child. A thick skin and a quick answer are worth adopting early on.

Differences can lead to the child being noticed by other children and being bullied or left out of games and sometimes more alone in the playground.

With thanks to Dr Amanda Kirby, doctor, lecturer and author in the field of dyspraxia for additional information

Some typical problems in school include:

  • difficulties following long instructions
  • finds planning and organising work a challenge
  • personal organisation can be problematic
  • difficulty copying text from book or whiteboard
  • variable ability – better some days than others and may get tired more easily
  • low self-esteem and frustration, which will sometimes result in disruptive behaviour
  • difficulty in ball sports
  • difficulty writing at speed or drawing neatly
  • slower getting changed for games lessons.

Other people often find it hard to get their heads round what dyspraxia means in practical terms. ‘Hidden disabilities uncovered!’ is an amusing and graphic description of what it’s like to be a 12-year-old dyspraxic.

Dyspraxia varies with the age, and your child’s co-ordination may improve. As you look back, the things you worried about so much, like ball-catching, may fade into insignificance as your child becomes an adult and can choose never to play football again, but enjoy swimming instead.

A lot of the co-ordination difficulties your child experiences may also be dependent on what is expected of them. Times of transition from primary to secondary and when leaving school can be the hardest, as change can make children with dyspraxia (as well as their parents!) feel ‘wobbly’. When the need for writing fast and legibly, or of organising possessions and themselves, presents problems, this is when good communication with school may be of the greatest help, so that sloppy work or losing things ‘again and again’ is not seen as something done on purpose.

Not just a problem at school

Dyspraxia is not just an educational problem even though this is where it may manifest first. Some adults find tasks like learning to drive or getting a hot meal on the table for the family hard to do.

Gaining good organisational skills can be started early by using to-do lists and establishing a clear routine and labelling clothes and drawers.

If belongings are forever being mislaid, you may find yourself forever buying pens, pencils and protractors late on a Sunday evening. (Three pencil cases is one way of resolving this – one for the bag, one for the desk and one for home as well as name tapes on everything!)

Clumsiness and lack of co-ordination can make mealtimes with young children a nightmare. Using specialised cutlery, a bowl with a lip and a cup with a lid can all help. Also, make sure your child has feet on the floor and table at waist height, so that sitting up is not a strain.

A little smart thinking about what’s actually required in specific tasks can make all the difference. Something simple such as shoes with easy-close fastenings rather than laces means being the first dressed after PE rather than the last every time.

What parents can do to help a child with dyspraxia/DCD

Dyspraxia can’t be cured and there are no quick fixes, much as everyone would love their child not to have difficulties. However, with appropriate help and understanding your child can improve a great deal, function well and reach their potential.



Related articles

  • Special Needs introduction

    Signs of special needs in school age children; how to get help; which type of school to choose; Education, Health and Care Plans ... Read more ... Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need.  Our SEN team helps…

  • The Good Schools Guide online subscription

    Find the best school for your child. Subscribe for one month for £15 (£0.49 per day) Subscribe for three months for £36 (£0.41 per day) Subscribe for six months for £60 (£0.33 per day) Subscribe for one year for £105 (£0.29 per day) Register for instant access to: ☑ Search for more than 30000 schools in our parent friendly interactive directory. ☑ Create and save lists of schools via My Schools. ☑ Use our comparison grid to get an exam results overview of schools you are interested in. ☑ Find comprehensive advice on state and independent schools, tutors and special…

  • Where to find a state grammar school

    Identifying and locating grammar schools. Grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston, with only a few grammar schools.

  • Boarding schools explained - the right choice?

    The headmaster/mistress runs the school but boarding houses are usually the domain of either houseparents or, in smaller schools, the head of boarding. Whilst the housemaster/mistress oversee the house, the day-to-day running is usually under the supervision of a matron.

  • Choosing a school for a child with performing arts talents

    As proud parents, we all know our children are unique. They're smarter than anyone else's, funnier, certainly more attractive, better behaved and above all bursting with the kind of talent that would leave Daniel Radcliffe, Jamie Bell and Charlotte Church standing. And for some extraordinary - though totally understandable - reason, everyone but us seems blind to our offspring's God-given artistic gifts.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools inc. year of entry.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of more than 1,100+ schools.
 Overall school performance by GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 School data comparison by A/B weighted, relative success and popularity.
 Compare schools by qualities and results.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >


Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

This month 'Breducation'

Are you knowledgeable about Scottish schools? Would you like to review them for the Good Schools Guide? Click here for more information.