Unravelling Dyspraxia: Past and Present Research

Dyspraxia is a disorder that hinders one’s ability to organize and execute complicated physical movements, affecting individuals of all ages, from young children to adults. This article delves into the history and current research on dyspraxia, along with solutions to aid those affected. By unravelling the past and present, we strive to gain a better understanding of this intricate disorder and discover ways to assist those living with it.

The History of Dyspraxia

Known also as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), dyspraxia has a rich and varied history. Dyspraxia was not formally acknowledged until the late 20th century. Previously, dyspraxia was often mistaken for ADHD or considered a clumsiness issue.”
We can find historical references to dyspraxia as far back as the ancient Greeks. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, described a condition that sounds very similar to dyspraxia in one of his writings. Experts coined the phrase “clumsy child syndrome” in the 19th century.
As the 20th century progressed, researchers and doctors began to take a more focused approach to understanding dyspraxia. In 1972, a British researcher named Dr Peter B. Hill published a paper on “motor impairment syndrome,” which included many of the same symptoms seen in dyspraxia today. A few years later, the first diagnostic criteria for dyspraxia were established by Dr Amanda Kirby in the UK.
Since then, our understanding of dyspraxia has continued to grow and evolve. While the exact causes of dyspraxia are still not fully understood, we do know that it is a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes information related to movement and coordination.
Today, researchers and clinicians continue to work together to improve our understanding of dyspraxia and to develop more effective interventions and treatments for those who live with this condition. Progress has been made, but more is needed to help those with dyspraxia.

Past Research

Individuals may have difficulties with regard to a variety of actions, such as speaking, planning and following through on simple motions. The earliest known research into dyspraxia dates back to the early 20th century, when British paediatrician William James wrote about the condition in his book “Principles of Psychology.” However, dyspraxia remained a relatively unknown disorder until the 1970s, when researchers started to take a more active interest in it.
One of the earliest researchers to study dyspraxia was Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist who proposed the concept of “sensory integration” in the 1970s. Ayres suggested that people with dyspraxia had difficulty integrating sensory information, such as sight and touch, which impacted their ability to coordinate their movements.
Around the same time, other researchers were also exploring the links between dyspraxia and other conditions such as ADHD, autism, and dyslexia. Some researchers believed that dyspraxia was a subset of these disorders, while others argued that it was a distinct disorder in its own right.
Despite the growing interest in dyspraxia in the 1970s, the disorder still remained largely misunderstood. Many parents and teachers were unaware of dyspraxia, and those who were aware often misunderstood the disorder and its impacts on individuals.
Nevertheless, early research into dyspraxia laid the groundwork for further study into the disorder and helped to raise awareness of it among professionals and the public. Today, dyspraxia is better understood, and researchers continue to make new discoveries about the disorder and how it can be managed.

Recent Research

Over the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in research dedicated to understanding dyspraxia. The term “dyspraxia” was first introduced in 1913 by a British neurologist named Sir William Gowers. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that research began to focus on the disorder.
One study conducted in 2001 found that there were structural differences in the brains of individuals with dyspraxia. Specifically, they found that there was reduced white matter in certain areas of the brain that are involved in motor coordination. White matter is responsible for transmitting signals between different areas of the brain, and the reduction in white matter may explain the difficulties individuals with dyspraxia experience in coordinating movements.
Another study in 2015 found that children with dyspraxia often have difficulty with visual perception, specifically in recognizing patterns. This could be related to the difficulties individuals with dyspraxia have with spatial awareness and coordination.
Additionally, recent research has suggested that dyspraxia may be related to issues with working memory. Working memory is the ability to hold and manipulate information in your mind over a short period of time. Individuals with dyspraxia may struggle with working memory, which could impact their ability to plan and execute complex movements.
Overall, these recent studies and others are helping to shed light on the complex nature of dyspraxia. However, much more research is needed to fully understand the disorder and how it can best be treated.
If you or someone you know has dyspraxia, there are several things you can do to help. First, seek out a healthcare provider or specialist who can diagnose and provide guidance on how to manage the disorder. Additionally, it can be helpful to engage in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other interventions that are tailored to the individual’s specific needs. Finally, creating a supportive and understanding environment can go a long way in helping individuals with dyspraxia feel confident and successful in their daily lives.

Current Theories

While the exact cause of dyspraxia is still unknown, there are a few theories that have gained traction in recent years. One theory suggests that the disorder may be related to a problem with the way the brain processes information, particularly regarding motor skills. Brain chemistry issues, such as a lack of neurotransmitters or hormones, may be related to dyspraxia.
There is also theories that suggest a combination of genetic and environmental factors may cause that dyspraxia. Studies have shown that there is a higher likelihood of a child developing dyspraxia if they have a family history of the disorder. Additionally, exposure to toxins or other environmental factors during pregnancy may also increase the risk of developing dyspraxia.
Early intervention and targeted therapy are important for individuals with dyspraxia. This may involve a combination of occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioural interventions. Additionally, parents and caregivers can work with their children to practice specific skills and activities that may be challenging for them, such as fine motor tasks or following multi-step directions.
Research and intervention efforts are making a difference in the lives of those with dyspraxia. With the right support and guidance, individuals with dyspraxia can overcome their challenges and thrive.

How You Can Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with dyspraxia, there are several ways you can help them manage their symptoms and live a more fulfilling life. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Create a supportive environment: Dyspraxia can be challenging for those affected by it. Having a supportive environment can make a big difference. Make sure to provide encouragement, positive reinforcement, and plenty of patience.
  2. Seek professional help: Dyspraxia can benefit from professional intervention. Talk to your doctor about the best course of treatment, such as occupational therapy or speech therapy.
  3. Build a routine: Establishing a daily routine can help those with dyspraxia to feel more in control and organized. This could include setting specific times for meals, homework, and other activities.
  4. Use assistive technology: Assistive technology can be a lifesaver for people with dyspraxia. Try assistive devices to aid with writing, typing, and communication.
  5. Encourage physical activity: Physical activity is a great way to improve coordination and balance. Encourage those with dyspraxia to participate in sports, yoga, dance, or other activities that promote physical coordination.
    Remember that every individual with dyspraxia is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to remain patient and open to finding solutions that work best for your unique situation. With time and effort, those with dyspraxia can overcome their challenges and thrive.


David Grant, (2017). That’s the Way I Think: Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD and Dyscalculia Explained – 3rd Edition, A David Fulton Book.

Susan Coulter, Lesley Kynman, Elizabeth Morling, Rob Grayson, Jill Wing,(2015).Supporting Children with Dyspraxia and Motor Co-Ordination Difficulties -2nd Edition, A David Fulton Book.


Spread the love