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Educators & Students with Learning Disabilities: Dyspraxia

Useful for elementary and secondary administrators, librarians, classroom teachers, and parents and students with Learning Disabilities

Dyspraxia. Motor Development Disorder


There is no known cause for dyspraxia and no neurological abnormality has been found to explain the disorder.

Students with dyspraxia have trouble coordinating and completing fine and/or gross motor skills. 2% of the population is estimated to have dyspraxia, and most of them are males.  (

  • These students look clumsy--their minds have trouble controlling their large muscles, and they bump into desks, people, corners
  • They have trouble playing sports--difficulty remembering the sequence of events necessary to throw a ball, swing a racket, jump a hurdle
  • They tend to avoid sports so as not to be made fun of--they decide they don't "like" that game

from Levine, All Kinds of Minds, 272-73

Dyspraxia: Related Disorder

Video: What is Dyspraxia?

From the National Center for Learning Disabilities:

"Dyspraxia is a disorder that affects motor skill development. People with dyspraxia have trouble planning and completing fine motor tasks. This can vary from simple motor tasks such as waving goodbye to more complex tasks like brushing teeth. It is not a learning disability (LD) but often coexists with other LDs and conditions that impact learning." 

Dyspraxia Resources

Dyspraxia Accommodations

Dyspraxia Accommodations

Signs and Symptoms

  • Exhibits poor balance; may appear clumsy; may frequently stumble
  • Shows difficulty with motor planning
  • Demonstrates inability to coordinate both sides of the body
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination
  • Exhibits weakness in the ability to organize self and belongings
  • Shows possible sensitivity to touch
  • May be distressed by loud noises or constant noises like the ticking of a clock or someone tapping a pencil
  • May break things or choose toys that do not require skilled manipulation
  • Has difficulty with fine motor tasks such as coloring between the lines, putting puzzles together; cutting accurately or pasting neatly
  • Irritated by scratchy, rough, tight or heavy clothing


  • Pre-set students for touch with verbal prompts, “I’m going to touch your right hand.”
  • Avoid touching from behind or getting too close and make sure peers are aware of this
  • Provide a quiet place, without auditory or visual distractions, for testing, silent reading or work that requires great concentration
  • Warn the student when bells will ring or if a fire drill is scheduled
  • Whisper when working one to one with the child
  • Allow parents to provide earplugs or sterile waxes for noisy events such as assemblies
  • Make sure the parent knows about what is observed about the student in the classroom
  • Refer student for occupational therapy or sensory integration training
  • Be cognizant of light and light sources that may be irritating to child
  • Use manipulatives, but make sure they are in students field of vision and don’t force student to touch them

Excerpted from the LDA of California and UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute "Q.U.I.L.T.S." Calendar 2001-2002