Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are often two invisible disabilities which overlap, in that many people who have one will also suffer with the other as well. Yet many (like I) also have Dyspraxia but not Dyslexia, and others who are vice versa.
Now if you have heard of Dyslexia but not Dyspraxia then don’t feel ashamed: many people haven’t heard of it. Yet why is Dyspraxia not so well known? Personally I cannot say why but I can only presume it is due to Dyspraxia only being discovered back in the 1970s, whereas Dyslexia was uncovered 90 years beforehand in the 1880s.
It is also worth noting that both Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are often shared: in that people who have Dyslexia also have Dyspraxia as well. Yet it should be added that though this is common it isn’t always the case. I have Dyspraxia but I know I don’t have Dyslexia: and others I know are the opposite as well.
In this article we’d be looking at the similarities of both Dyspraxia and Dyslexia; as well as the differences between them.
Yet first we need to look into what makes up each of these learning disabilities.
What Is Dyslexia?
Most people when they think of Dyslexia believe that it has something to do with not being able to read anything as the letters appear all jumbled up on paper. While this is sort of right, in reality Dyslexia is a bit more complicated.
According to the NHS website, the characteristics that make up Dyslexia include:
- read and write very slowly
- confuse the order of letters in words
- put letters the wrong way round (such as writing “b” instead of “d”)
- have poor or inconsistent spelling
- understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
- find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
- struggle with planning and organisation
It is estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK has Dyslexia and it is a lifelong condition. Despite this there are treatments available to help those with Dyslexia. This includes (but not limited too)
- occasional 1-to-1 teaching or lessons in a small group with a specialist teacher
- phonics (a special learning technique that focuses on improving the ability to identify and process the smaller sounds that make up words)
- technology like computers and speech recognition software that may make it easier for your child to read and write when they’re a bit older
Unfortunately there is no actual cure for Dyslexia at present, though with the treatments available, many people with Dyslexia can and do live successful lives.
What Is Dyspraxia?
Just like many people assume that Dyslexia is something to do with making letters look jumbled on a page, when it comes to Dyspraxia many think that it is some sort of clumsiness. It isn’t surprising that many think this, especially as two other names for this condition are clumsy child syndrome syndrome and Developmental Coordination Disorder.
According to the NHS website, the characteristics that make up Dyspraxia include:
- your coordination, balance and movement
- how you learn new skills, think, and remember information at work and home
- your daily living skills, such as dressing or preparing meals
- your ability to write, type, draw and grasp small object
- show you function in social situations
- how you deal with your emotions
- time management, planning and personal organisation skills
Both Dyspraxia and Dyslexia are lifelong conditions in that there is no actual cure to them. Yet just like Dyslexia, there are various techniques that can be taught to help those of us with Dyspraxia. These include (but limited to):
occupational therapy — to help you find practical ways to remain independent and manage everyday tasks such as writing or preparing food
cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave
What Do Dyspraxia And Dyslexia Both Have In Common
There are several similarities between Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, some positive whilst others negative. One negativity which is shared between both is they tend to have difficulties with writing. Those with Dyspraxia can have messy handwriting as well as issues with structuring their sentences.
This is very similar to those with Dyslexia, who due to issues with seeing the writing, etc. will often produce written content which is also hard to read.
Another negative symptom which is shared between both disabilities is issues with short term memory. Both can struggle with forgetting something they have just learned and as such may need to relearn something a few times for it to stick in our heads.
As well as issues with short term memory, those with Dyspraxia and/or Dyslexia also have issues with organisation. Whilst problems with organisation are known amongst Dyspraxics, it is not so known that those with Dyslexia also have issues with organisation as well.
Despite the negative traits that those with Dyspraxia and Dyslexia both share, there are also positive traits shared as well. One such trait is being holistic problem solvers. By holistic problem solvers, I am referring to big picture thinkers.
These are the main qualities that those with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia have in common. Yet what are the differences between these two disabilities?
What Are The Differences Between Dyspraxia And Dyslexia?
Despite the similarities there are differences between the two (though it should be said that those with one of these disabilities will often have the other one as well). So what are these differences?
Well one of the main differences is the fact that Dyspraxia is a motor coordination issue which can also affect speech as well. Whereas Dyslexia affects one’s ability with regards to reading and writing. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
Yet beyond these main differences there are many other ones as well. For one thing those with Dyslexia don’t tend to get any pleasure out of reading for obvious reasons.
Likewise those with Dyspraxia can have issues with communication. Whilst communication issues can happen with certain types of Dyslexia (mainly distinguishing between certain sounds) with Dyspraxia we can have issues with regards to structuring our words in the right sequence. Also we can have issues controlling the speed, pitch and volume of our voices.
There are a lot more beyond the scope of this article and if you like to know more about Dyslexia, I recommend reading The Gift Of Dyslexia by Ronald D Davis.
And if you’d like to read more on Dyspraxia, then I would strongly recommend reading my book ‘Dyspraxia: How To Thrive As An Adult’ by Alex Gadd.
Also if you or a loved one suffers with Dyspraxia and perhaps like to chat with fellow Dyspraxics (or just read information on Dyspraxia) then I recommend you join the Dyspraxia Support Group on Facebook.