Understanding Praxis and Dyspraxia

Guest Authored By Sophia P L, OTR/L

For many parents of children that are neurodiverse, you may have heard the word “praxis” thrown around by your pediatric therapy team. But, what does praxis mean? Even more importantly, what does it look like?  

Praxis is the “the ability to conceptualize, plan, and execute a non-habitual motor act” (Case-Smith & Clifford O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). Children that experience difficulty with conceptualization and execution of new or novel motor plans may be diagnosed with dyspraxiaMany children that are neurodiverse experience difficulty with sensory processing. Dyspraxia in relation to poor sensory processing, specifically tactile and proprioceptive input is called somatodyspraxia. Dyspraxia in relation to deficits in vision and visual perception is called visuodyspraxiaOther forms of praxis and dyspraxia include: praxis on verbal command, constructional praxis, postural praxis, oral praxis, and sequencing praxis.  

Visuodyspraxia can happen in conjunction with somatodyspraxiaIf your child has been diagnosed with or is suspected of having dyspraxia, you may see the following: 

  • Clumsy movements 
  • Awkward movements 
  • Poor sequencing 
  • Poor timing 
  • Poor precision  
  • Poor interaction with physical environment 
  • Difficulty with imitation 
  • Difficulty/frustration with new motor plans 
  • May prefer talking about rather than doing an activity 

 In addition, children with dyspraxia often have difficulty with ideation. Ideation is the ability to “generate ideas of what to do in a novel situation” (Case-Smith & Clifford O’Brien, 2015, p. 272). Children that experience difficulty with ideation may demonstrate poor initiation or independent play with new toys or play schemas. This may present as the following: 

  • Simple repetitive actions 
  • Lack of direction or goal when playing 
  • Observing and imitating other children when playing 
  • Prompt dependent or needing clear directions 
  • Difficulty thinking of new play schemes 

 Dyspraxia and poor ideation may impact your child’s ability to complete self-care routines as well as participate in play and leisure activities. Evidence-based treatments that have proven to improve dyspraxia include sensory integration, sensorimotor, and visual-motor interventions. These interventions are designed to target sensory processing, body awareness, body mapping, visual perception, visual construction, and vestibular-postural-bilateral integration. Specific programs to target these skills include: 

  • Therapeutic Listening 
  • Astronaut Training 
  • Interactive Metronome 

If you suspect your child has somatodyspraxiavisuodyspraxia, or poor ideation talk to your physician or pediatric therapy team. They may provide educational materials and activities to improve motor planning at home and in-school! 

Citation

Case-Smith, J. & Clifford O’Brien, J. (2015). Sensory Integration. In Parham, L. D. & 
Mailloux, Z. (Eds).Occupational Therapy for Children and Adolescents (p. 272). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.  

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

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