A new survey that suggests dyspraxia may be under diagnosed in girls has sparked an urgent call from a national charity for greater awareness of the condition among females.
Up to 10 per cent of people in Britain show signs of the condition, with about two per cent severely affected, and males are four times more likely to be diagnosed than females.
The survey on behalf of the Dyspraxia Foundation questioned 1,156 people, 537 of whom were individuals with dyspraxia and 619 were parents of someone with dyspraxia.
Of the 467 adults with dyspraxia who revealed their gender, 69% were female and 31% male. For the ‘child’ population the figures were almost exactly opposite: 73% had sons, 28% had daughters.
Experts from the Dyspraxia Foundation are concerned that the gender discrepancy in the results, which were released today, seems to show the condition is under recognised in girls, who will often have to wait until adulthood before being diagnosed.
These means their difficulties are overlooked in the classroom, while also reinforcing the view that dyspraxia is a largely male disorder.
The survey reported more than half (53%) of all female respondents said their primary school teachers were unaware of their difficulties (compared to just 39% of the males questioned), while 47% of teenage girls reported the same situation in secondary school, as opposed to 32% of males.
Dyspraxia is a common neurological problem that impairs the organisation of movement, often with no obvious cause. Once cruelly and incorrectly referred to as ‘clumsy child’ syndrome, it causes difficulties with memory, perception and processing, along with poor planning, organisation and sequencing skills.
Sally Payne, paediatric occupational therapist and trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation, said: “This survey really has underlined a pattern we’ve observed for some time and while the results do reinforce a concerning trend of many girls sliding under the radar of relevant healthcare professionals, it does allow us to push on with plans for developing specific materials, tools and resources for girls and adolescents as well as for their parents and teachers.”
The Dyspraxia Foundation, the only national charity in the UK dedicated to raising awareness of the condition, will be focusing on the gender gap for its Awareness Week from 11 to 17 October, which will see the launch of its new Advice for Girls information pack.