Dyspraxia occurs when the brain is not able to adequately plan actions.  In adults, this can be acquired as a result of a stroke (CVA) or disease or brain lesion of some kind.  The severity can range from mild to severe, and so the symptoms will vary accordingly.

Likely symptoms include difficulty talking, eating and drinking.

Difficulties with eating and drinking are called Dysphagia.  Anyone showing signs of dysphagia should be assessed by a Speech Pathologist as soon as possible so that their safety is not compromised.  Poor swallowing can result in choking or aspiration pneumonia as a result of fluid entering the airways.  If someone is having difficulty swallowing it will usually be uncomfortable for them.

People with dyspraxia will often seem to understand better than they can talk.  Some people can understand quite well, but not be able to express themselves.

People may have difficulty talking because they actually are unable to make some of the sounds needed for speech.  They may repeat a sound or groups of sounds over and over.  Some of what they try to say may come out sounding like jargon.  A word may suddenly be substituted for another so that what is said does not make sense, even for well known objects.  When trying to name a pencil, for example, they may give you something like “desk” or “fork”.

Vowel sounds are often easier to produce than consonants, but the sound may be somewhat distorted.  Shorter words tend to be easier to say than longer words.  Real words are easier to say than imitating made up words or sounds.

And quite often, the harder and longer people try – the harder it gets.

In severe cases, people may not be able to imitate the facial expressions of others.  They may not be able to move all the right muscles on demand, so even being able to copy a smile or a grimace, move the eyebrows up and down or poke out the tongue, could be challenging.  You may find they are unable to imitate blowing a kiss or sucking.

Automatic speech tends to be easier to elicit from people with dyspraxia, so that they may be able to say the days of the week, count, or say the alphabet.  Often people are able to sing, even when talking is difficult, so you may find that well-known songs from the past are remembered.  People with dyspraxia also can often express something that comes from their own thoughts rather than talking on demand or answering questions

This can be “a way in” to help people with dyspraxia.  Have them listen to songs from their past and attempt to sing along.  Use their “automatic speech” as much as possible to get their speech moving again.  Help them think their thoughts out loud, saying what they are doing as they do it, such as, “turn on the light”, “Put the kettle on”.