Apraxia (Dyspraxia) Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Childhood apraxia of speech, sometimes called dyspraxia or developmental apraxia of speech, is a speech disorder in which the brain has difficulties getting the tongue, lips, and jaw to move correctly for talking. Children with the disorder know what they want to say, but can’t coordinate the muscle movements needed to make the sounds, syllables, and words.

Apraxia is more common in boys than girls, although girls with the disorder usually have a more severe form.

Children with apraxia also may have:

  • sensitivity problems with their mouths, such as not liking to brush their teeth or eat crunchy foods
  • difficulties with fine and gross motor skills and coordination
  • difficulties understanding what other people say
  • problems learning to read, write, and spell

Students with apraxia may:

  • need assistive devices or alternative communication methods to help them in class
  • need seating close to the front of the class
  • feel anxious, nervous, or frustrated when it comes to speaking in class
  • be at risk for bullying
  • need accommodations for missed class time and assignments due to frequent speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy sessions
  • benefit from having an individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 education plan

Apraxia symptoms can vary widely, and some students with the disorder might not have any learning disabilities.

What Teachers Can Do

Apraxia can affect many aspects of a student’s education and academic performance. It’s important for teachers to keep the lines of communication open between home and school to help ensure students get the proper support.

Keep your students with apraxia as involved in classroom and extracurricular activities as much as possible, but keep in mind that some also may have physical coordination problems. Give students extra time to complete assignments and plenty of time to communicate their needs.

Because students with apraxia are at risk for bullying, just like many other students with special needs, try to create opportunities for collaboration and friendships with classmates.

Reviewed by: Rupal Christine Gupta, MD
Date reviewed: June 2015