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What is a Dyspraxia Test?

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  • Written By: Amanda Dean
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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A dyspraxia test is an assessment to differentiate social, motor, and learning deficits characteristic of dyspraxia from other illnesses such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, and autism. Dyspraxia, formerly known as “clumsy child syndrome,” affects the ability to interact with the world. Although there are some checklists available for parental reference, a dyspraxia test should be conducted by a trained pediatrician or child psychologist. A thorough diagnostic test for this disorder involves assessments of sensory process, perception, independence, and organization.

Children with this disorder have difficulty with motor processes, such as properly holding a pencil, and may find it difficult to stay on task. They may be considered “slow” to their peers and teachers, even though they are often quite bright. Educators may attribute such deficits as not knowing left from right to ineptitude rather than a learning disorder. Parents should advocate that their children be diagnosed with a proper dyspraxia test if they show symptoms of this disorder.

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Praxis is the main focus of a dyspraxia test. This measures how well the child interacts with physical objects in the world. During the overall motor control phase of the assessment, the test giver would ask the child to do tasks such as holding a fork, pushing a toy car down a street, or creating a building using blocks. Children with dyspraxia may demonstrate difficulty in skipping without tripping or catching a ball. The assessor would determine the level of skill and effort the child places on the task.

The clinician conducting the dyspraxia test would observe the child's fine muscle coordination for signs of this disorder. Many children with dyspraxia have sloppy penmanship, despite a conscious effort to make their handwriting legible. Part of the test may ask parents if the child had delays in independent feeding or dressing.

The test also measures spatial and lateral orientation. The test includes evaluating the child's sense of direction. Many children with this disorder have difficult determining left from right and frequently use both sides of the body to complete tasks. The test-giver will look for signs of confusion, distress, and frustration with these tasks that seem simple to others.

Dyspraxia often leads to challenges in social and emotional development. The clinician conducting a dyspraxia test measures the extent to which the disorder affects the child's life. He or she may be less confident than peers and may have suffered ridicule from educators. The test would also include indicators of short-term memory and communication skills.

The test for dyspraxia is fairly involved and cannot be done by parents or ordinary classroom teachers since they are not thoroughly trained in the disorder. If parents suspect their child has this disorder, they should speak with their pediatrician to schedule an assessment. This is an important step in creating a personalized treatment plan and helping their child to prevent developmental and educational delays.

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