Dyspraxia Symptoms in Adults

Dyspraxia symptoms in adults

Dyspraxia – also known as Development Coordination Disorder (DCD) – is typically diagnosed in childhood, with symptoms such as difficulty feeding, delayed sitting up, delayed toilet training and impaired speech.

Dyspraxia symptoms in adults vary from person to person, but individuals often struggle with day-to-day routine tasks such as cooking, driving, household chores and getting dressed.

They may also struggle in a work environment, with employment proving challenging.

Is dyspraxia a motor disorder?

Characterised by difficulty in muscle control, dyspraxia is defined as a motor disorder, rather than a learning disability.

The condition affects movement, coordination, language and speech. It often exists alongside conditions such as:

● Dyscalculia
Asperger’s syndrome
● Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
● Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Dyspraxia in adults is usually characterised by a combination of symptoms, including:

Gross motor skills

● Poor posture – often a result of weak muscle tone
● Poor balance – individuals may trip over often and may struggle to ride a bike
● Poor hand to eye coordination – individuals may struggle to catch a ball and drive a car
● Lack or rhythm – especially when dancing
● Clumsy movements – may tend to bump into people
● Accessory movements – such as flapping arms when running

Fine motor skills

● Poor manual dexterity – especially in tasks such as cooking, cleaning and playing musical instruments
● Poor hand dominance – may use either hand for tasks
● Poor manipulative skills – difficulty writing, drawing and typing
● Weak grasp – difficulty using keys and locks
● Difficulty in dressing, shaving and brushing hair

Speech and language

● Unclear speech
● Struggle to organise words
● Non-typical speech patterns
● Uncontrolled speech volume and rate
● May talk continuously/repeat themselves frequently

Eye movements

● Difficulty following objects with eyes without excessively moving head
● Lose place when reading
● Difficulty looking between objects, such as looking from a book to the TV


● Struggle to adapt to new situations and may avoid them altogether
● Struggle to pick up on non-verbal signals from others
● May listen but not understand
● Difficulty listening to others, particularly in groups
● May interrupt frequently
● Find teamwork challenging
● Impulsive
● Easily frustrated
● Erratic – experience good and bad days
● Tendency towards stress, depression and anxiety
● Difficulty sleeping
● Low self esteem
● Disposed to phobias, fears, compulsions and addictive behaviour


● Poor visual perception
● Over sensitive to light
● Over sensitive to noise
● Over or under sensitive to touch – may dislike being touched (tactile defensiveness)
● Over or under sensitive to smell/taste
● Over or under sensitive to temperature/pain
● Lack of spatial awareness
● Poor sense of time, speed and distance
● Poor sense of direction

Learning and memory

● Difficulty planning/organising thoughts
● Poor memory, particularly short term
● Forgets and loses things easily
● Can be messy
● Struggle with maths, reading and spelling
● Struggle with accuracy
● Difficulty following instructions
● Easily distracted, struggle to concentrate
● Slow to finish tasks – tendency to daydream
Many of these symptoms are not unique to people with dyspraxia, which may initially make the condition difficult to diagnose.
Not even the most severe case will have every symptom or characteristic, but adults with dyspraxia will tend to have noticeable coordination and perceptual difficulties.

What is apraxia of speech?

Also known as verbal dyspraxia, apraxia of speech (AOS) is a speech disorder whereby an individual has an inability to control the muscles used to form words. When the messages from the brain to the mouth are disrupted, they cannot move their lips or tongue to make letter sounds.
The muscles are often perfectly fine, but the person has trouble controlling them, which makes it hard to initiate and sequence the sounds that make words.
Apraxia of speech can be mild or it can be severe. It can be extremely frustrating to know what you want to say, but be unable to say it. Someone with severe apraxia of speech may be unable to make any sounds or words at all.
What causes apraxia of speech in adults?

Apraxia of speech occurs when the part of the brain responsible for coordinated muscle movement is damaged, through an occurrence such as a stroke. Conditions such as dementia, brain tumours and neurological disorders can also cause apraxia, as can head injuries.
What are the symptoms of apraxia of speech in adults?
Symptoms vary from person to person but you may notice:

● Difficulty moving the tongue, lips or jaw
● Slow/halting speech
● Inconsistent errors in speech