Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder or DCD, impacts 6% of the population. The official diagnosis of dyspraxia is made by a qualified health professional such as a paediatrician. The diagnosis process typically involves an assessment of the individual verbal or oral language, coordination, followed by a medical examination. The approach used to diagnose dyspraxia will depend on the individual’s age and symptoms.
School-aged children and adults
For older children, diagnosis of dyspraxia involves a comprehensive assessment by an experienced health professional such as a clinical psychologist. This assessment may rely on parents’ observations of the child’s behaviour, developmental history, school reports, and standardised tests to measure movement skills, speech, and language. As a parent, you can:
- Record observations and experiences of your child’s development
- Ask teachers to observe your child in school (to assess their concentration, writing speed, and motor coordination)
- Ask your GP or health visitor to refer you to a specialist for further assessment
- Engage the school to provide appropriate support for your child.
If a diagnosis of dyspraxia is made, the specialist can recommend strategies to help the individual manage their condition and provide guidance on dyspraxia support systems.
Diagnosis of dyspraxia in adults often involves an evaluation focusing on the individual’s movement skills. This evaluation may include a physical exam, such as checking for muscle tone and coordination, and tests of basic skills, such as writing and holding objects. The professional may also ask questions about the individual’s development and personal history to identify any changes in movement or coordination that could indicate dyspraxia. In addition to a physical evaluation, medical testing may be used to assess and eliminate other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Some conditions, such as stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, or cerebral palsy, can cause similar symptoms and must be ruled out.
During the diagnosis, the individual may be referred to a specialist for further assessment and support. The specialist can recommend strategies to help the individual manage their condition and provide guidance on dyspraxia support systems.
Professionals that can diagnose dyspraxia
Some of the professionals that can help with the diagnosis of dyspraxia include:
Paediatrician or developmental paediatrician
A developmental paediatrician is a specialist doctor in diagnosing and treating developmental problems in children. For example, they can assess whether a child has typical fine motor or language skills for their age. They can diagnose children under five years of age.
A clinical psychologist evaluates cognitive and behavioural functioning. They use interviews, questionnaires, and tests to assess the individual’s skills and development.
An occupational therapist helps individuals with dyspraxia by assessing their activities of daily living, such as dressing and eating, as well as other activities that require coordination or fine motor skills. They can also advise on strategies and treatments to help with these skills.
Speech and language therapist
A speech and language therapist can assess an individual’s communication and language abilities. They may suggest activities to improve the individual’s communication and other strategies to help them manage their condition.
A physiotherapist can assess an individual’s physical abilities and mobility. They can advise on how to improve balance, coordination, strength, and posture. They may also suggest activities or exercises that can help with motor control.
How to get a diagnosis
So you think you might have dyspraxia, but how do you actually get a diagnosis?
- Create a diary and log all the movement and coordination challenges you’ve experienced in your day to day life, at work, at home or when you’re out and about.
- Contact your GP to arrange an appointment.
- The GP will conduct a medical assessment.
- The medical assessment will focus on your movement skills, where they will aim to rule out other possible explanations for your movement challenges like cerebal palsy or a stroke. The GP will also consider whether you have another type of neurodiversity, like autism or ADHD.
- If your GP believes you may have dyspraxia, they will refer you to an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist for further assessment, who will then be able to confirm whether you have dyspraxia.
- The assessment will; review the information about your challenges, potentially from your employer and your family as well; assess your coordination skills including your balance, posture and fine motor skills; seek to understand your developmental history to understand that these movement challenges were present from a young age.
If you think you have dyspraxia and would like some advice or support, contact the Enna team on email@example.com.