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Learning Differences: Dyspraxia


This guide focuses on Dyspraxia and studying. It includes:

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia by Fixers UK

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental difference that can affect physical, intellectual, emotional, sensory, social, and/or language development. It is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). 

People with dyspraxia may experience challenges in the following areas:

Gross motor skills
  • balance and posture
  • coordination of the two sides of the body, which affects activities such as jumping or skipping
Fine motor coordination
  • holding and manipulating small objects
  • handwriting, drawing
  • hand-­eye coordination
  • eye movements – looking to the board and back to exercise book
  • time management
  • thinking and language processing
  • short-­term memory
  • spatial skills
  • misunderstanding body language

Dyspraxia affects people in different ways, at different ages and developmental stages. 

(MoE, n.d.)

Let's take a look at some of your strengths

While people with dyspraxia face specific challenges, there are also some positive aspects. 

Learning Strategies for Students

These strategies might be useful to help you manage your study

Talk about your learning preference 
  • Talk to your tutor about your learning strengths, weaknesses and preferences. 
  • Talk about what situations you find both stressful and calming. 
  • Create some personal signals that you can use with your tutors to communicate your needs. For example, when you want help, more time, or time out. 
Prepare for class
  • Read written instructions, lecture notes, and assigned texts before class begins.
  • Ask your tutors for the schedule or plan for each session. 
Note taking
  • Type your notes on a laptop. You might find this a quicker method of note taking. 
  • Record your lectures and use the recordings to write your notes later.
  • Print the course material before class so you can write notes directly on the material instead of writing all of the notes down separately in your workbook. 
Write to-do lists / menus

To-do lists or menus are great because they can help you see what needs to be done, and can help you stay on track. 

  • Create numbered checklists or menus for different assignments or course modules. Tick them off as you complete them. 
  • Break assignments into smaller tasks. Turn longer instructions into bullet points. 
  • Use the Assignment Scheduler to break down assignments into tasks with a date line
Use visual tools
  • Colour-code your notes and course material.
  • Use coloured post-its to organise your notes and course material.
  • Draw mindmaps, diagrams and flowcharts to help you organise your tasks.
  • Set a short timers for your breaks too. Leave your screen and take a walk. 
Find a study buddy
  • Find a study buddy you can work alongside.
    • You can help each other stay on track, problem solve together, and have study related conversations
Exam support
  • Ask the Accessibility Coordinator about exam support such as reader/writers, separate rooms, and extra time. 


Take a moment: Choose one or two learning strategies to try this week. 

Teaching Strategies for Tutors

The best things you can do to support your students with dyspraxia are:

  • Learn more about dyspraxia
  • Get you know your students and their learning preferences. 

These teaching strategies may helpful for students with dyspraxia. 

Create supportive learning environments

  • Encourage students to adapt the environment to meet their needs by, for example, wearing headphones, moving to a quiet working environment or taking a walk to support their thinking.
  • Keep classrooms organised and clutter free. Have open spaces with clear pathways. 
  • Allow plenty of time for students to complete tasks, process information and formulate responses. 
  • Allow students multiple means of showing their skills and understanding, i.e. set a range of different types of assessments. 
  • Provide regular opportunities for physical movement. 
Develop predictable routines
  • Provide a clear structure of each lesson at the beginning of each class. 
  • Set learning objectives and aims for activities and classes. 
  • Use charts, visual calendars, colour-coded schedules, visible timers and visual cues to increase the predictability of regular activities.
Give clear instructions and information 
  • Give clear, detailed and short instructions in unambiguous language in multiple formats (verbal, visual, and written).
  • Slow down your pace when giving instructions.
  • Use numbered bullet points that can be ticked off once complete. 
  • Use Moodle to share lecture slides and course resources prior to class.
  • Check that your instructions have been understood by asking students to repeat or rephrase the information.  
Present content in different ways
  • Enhance your verbal communication with visual cues, such as using charts, pictures, and videos in your teaching.
  • Point out key information through highlighting or underlining.
  • Pre-teach concepts for new activities, and connect new concepts to real life. 
  • Summarise what you have covered at the end of each session.
  • Allow students to record lessons. 
  • Support memory weaknesses by using mnemonics, repetition, visual maps, colour, reviewing prior learning, etc. 
Use visual cues
  • Establish some personal cues between you and your students to signal when they may need time out or extra help. This could include the Turn-A-Card system, or hand signals.
  • Use visual timers and provide reminders of time limits.
Support organisation skills
  • Encourage organisation and focus with checklists and verbal prompts. 
  • Allow additional time to complete tasks. 
  • Help students create check lists or flowcharts with tasks broken into smaller parts.

Does this sound like you?

Want to check if you might have Dyspraxia?

  • Click the arrow on the right to answer some questions.
  • If you answer yes to many of these questions, then you might be experiencing the effects of Dyspraxia.

This self-assessment can give you an idea of whether you might have Dyspraxia. It shouldn't be used to diagnose yourself. Talk to your Accessibility Coordinator for more information.

Do you:

  • have trouble with self-care tasks, such as tying shoelaces, fastening buttons and zips?

  • have trouble with playing team games, or catching and throwing balls accurately?

  • bump into objects or people, trip over things more than others?

  • find it hard to estimate distance (e.g. with regard to parking, passing through objects)?

Do you: 

  • have difficulty writing neatly (so others could read it)?

  • have trouble reading your own writing?

  • find it hard to write neatly when you're having to write fast?

  • often make mistakes when copying things down?



Do you:

  • have trouble organising/finding things in your room?

  • have difficulty planning ahead?

  • have trouble finding your way around new buildings or places?

  • avoid hobbies that require good coordination?



Do you:

  • choose to spend your leisure time more on your own than with others?

  • find it hard to do two things at the same time?

  • find it hard to sit still or do you often fidget?

  • repeat the same words or phrases over and over again? 


Assistive Technology

There may be technology available that may make studying easier.

You may be eligible for funding. Getting a professional assessment may help you get funding for support tools. 

9 Lessons

9 lessons for dyspraxia by Visual Knowledge (2019)

References & Useful Links

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Understanding dyspraxia. Inclusive Education. 

Dyspraxia / DCD module developed by CanChild (2012)

  • Designed to increase knowledge about Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and other motor coordination challenges

If you want to talk about any information on these pages, please contact Wayne Samways, the Accessibility Coordinator. or 027 218 9180


Thank you to the team at Te PÅ«kenga Weltec Whitireia who gave us permission to adapt and use their guide on Learning Differences