The Dyspraxia Foundation lists the main characteristics of the disorder as difficulty planning a series of movements and difficulty following through on an action even when the brain understands the motion. Fine motor skills are often affected, and since those skills include such things as holding a pencil correctly, writing for long amounts of time, and being able to correctly form letters and numbers, there are frequent misdiagnoses of dyslexia. Gross motor skills problems, including difficulty balancing and maintaining proper social distances, are often affected as well, and the child may seem to be generally “clumsy”.
What would this look like in a gifted child? Often, these twice exceptional children develop a creative way for holding their writing tools in place of the traditional pencil grip. This can cause trouble in forming their letters correctly. Teachers often expect practice to improve a student’s skill, but simple rote penmanship drills will do little to improve the handwriting of a child with dyspraxia.
Additionally because dyspraxia affects gross motor skills as well, students with this learning disability may find recess a particular form of torture. They struggle with running, jumping rope, swinging- many of these tasks requiring complex series of actions along with mental planning and executing functions that are severely difficult for them.
NOTE: I’ve written previously about asynchronous development, which is a normal symptom of giftedness itself, and does not require treatment (but perhaps a little extra patience). The difference between asynchronous development and dyspraxia is that of time. With time, the asynchronous development of a gifted child will begin to improve. For the dyspraxic child, intervention is most often necessary for improvement. The distinction to watch for between the two is that dyspraxia will affect all areas of a child’s gross and/or fine motor skills. If you suspect this to be the case, you may want to consider testing for dyspraxia. If diagnosed, treatments such as occupational therapy are available and can help.