What is dyspraxia (and where can I find help as an adult)?

Samantha Redgrave-Hogg
By Samantha Redgrave-Hogg,
updated on Jul 11, 2023

Puzzle pieces

We explore the symptoms of dyspraxia, and how a dyspraxic adult may need mental health support as a result of the condition

Many dyspraxic adults didn’t grow up knowing they had the condition, leading to low self-esteem later in life. If you’ve been diagnosed with dyspraxia or think you have it, you may have felt trapped in your own body growing up or confused about why other children could do simple things that you found difficult. Let’s take a look at dyspraxia in more detail and how to find the right kind of support.

What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia or developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common condition affecting many areas of daily life, such as coordination and movement. It impacts up to 10% of the population, and often symptoms are present from an early age. According to the Dyspraxia Foundation, “Dyspraxia affects all areas of life, making it difficult for people to carry out activities that others take for granted.”

If you think you may have dyspraxia, please get in touch with your GP, who may refer you to an occupational therapist for tests.

We don’t know the exact causes but it’s believed dyspraxia may be a hereditary characteristic or be related to having a low weight at birth. Dyspraxia can sometimes run alongside other conditions such as ADHD. If you have dyspraxia, you may struggle with:

  • balancing
  • hand-eye coordination
  • preparing food
  • following conversations
  • working toward deadlines
  • writing or typing
  • feeling tired
  • remembering information
  • coordinating both sides of the body
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • learning new skills
  • producing clear speech (verbal dyspraxia)
  • anxiety
  • feeling insecure

If you’d like some more information about the symptoms of dyspraxia according to age group, Dyspraxia: Signs in all ages (and strategies that can help) goes into more detail about what to look out for.

It’s important that we view dyspraxic people relating to areas of positivity and strength. Some qualities may include creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, risk-taking, attentiveness, and a good sense of justice.

Dyspraxia and anxiety

Not being able to do things that other people find easy can sometimes lead dyspraxic people to feel like they don’t belong. In her article, Counselling for dyspraxia, dyslexia and related conditions, Counselling Directory member Paula Newman (MBACP Senior Accred) shares her experiences of working with neurodivergent people.

As day-to-day tasks can feel draining and frustrating, dyspraxic people can often feel anxious and insecure. To see other people going about life without batting much of an eyelid may bring about intense bouts of frustration, or even leave you feeling emotionally detached.

They may have to deal with bullying and labels such as lazy, stupid, naughty, immature and strange. This can result in low confidence and low self-esteem, loneliness and depression.

If you’re looking for a support network, Dyspraxic Adults is a community forum where you can find more advice about your condition.

Where can I find support for dyspraxia?

If you’re struggling to process the emotional consequences of dyspraxia, speaking with a professional can be a positive way to help you manage your negative thoughts. Talking to a counsellor trained in dyspraxia counselling can help you process feelings of insecurity and potentially reframe some of the negative perceptions you have about yourself as a result of the condition.

Treating yourself more kindly can be a way to improve your self-esteem and feel more positive about your journey. Everyone is different and will experience their dyspraxia through their own deeply personal lens, but some ways to look after yourself with a sense of compassion are:

  • Find the right kind of environment that suits your strengths.
  • Surround yourself with people that understand and support you.
  • Celebrate the small victories in life.
  • Focus on the things you can control.
  • Recognise your unique set of skills.
  • Try to avoid comparing yourself to others.
  • Think of all the things you like about yourself (and ask others what they like about you).

Growing up with dyspraxia would have been a huge challenge, and celebrating the daily hurdles you’ve overcome can help you feel both empowered and inspired.

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