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How does ADHD affect motor skills?

Does my child have ADHD?

ADHD is a medical condition thought to affect between 3 and 5% of school age children, making it one of the most common developmental disorders in children.

It affects those parts of the brain that control concentration, attention and impulsive behaviour. A child suffering from this condition shows disruptive behaviours over and above those of the same-aged children with similar intelligence and development.

These behaviours are more extreme than simple ‘misbehaviour’.

If left untreated, the child is likely to perform badly throughout school, at home and in other settings and will probably find it difficult to make friends with other children.

If the above are ringing bells about your own super hero, then come and chat to us at school, as we can help with strategies and support.

If I feel that my child could have ADHD or DCD

what would a referral and assessment do?

If you or your school feel that an assessment is necessary, you and your child could go to see a GP, a Paediatrician, Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist for further assessment, help and support.

During the assessment, the professional will look at birth details, development and academic ability, as well as a physical and neurological examination to exclude other medical conditions. An Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist will evaluate the child through standardised assessments and observations when he or she is playing and completing tasks in a number of areas:

Some other elements that can go hand in hand with a diagnosis of ADHD:

  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Conduct Disorder (CD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Tics or Tourette’s Syndrome (TS)
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Gross and fine motor co-ordination
  • Posture and body awareness
  • Manual dexterity and bilateral co-ordination (using two hands together)
  • Visual perception (how they interpret what they see) and sensory processing

What are gross motor skills?

These are being able to co-ordinate your arms and legs which includes posture and balance. Children with poor gross motor skills can have problems with riding a bike, catching or throwing a ball, hopping or skipping, tripping and falling over, bumping into things and knocking things over.

What are fine motor skills?

These refer to hand skills and manual dexterity. Children with poor fine motor skills can have difficulties with using a pencil for drawing or writing, cutting with scissors, using a knife and fork, doing up buttons and zips when dressing or tying shoe laces.

What next?

Firstly, don’t panic! Come and chat to the school and we can give you strategies to use both at home and in everyday situations to support your super hero with their needs. Most of the above can be helped with a variety of physical strategies, which will help develop their skills.

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Dyspraxia (developmental co-ordination disorder) in adults

Dyspraxia does not affect your intelligence. It can affect your co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect your fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects.

This page focuses on dyspraxia in adults. You can also read about childhood dyspraxia.

Symptoms of dyspraxia

Symptoms of dyspraxia can vary between individuals and may change over time. You may find routine tasks difficult.

If you have dyspraxia it may affect:

  • your co-ordination, balance and movement
  • how you learn new skills, think, and remember information at work and home
  • your daily living skills, such as dressing or preparing meals
  • your ability to write, type, draw and grasp small objects
  • how you function in social situations
  • how you deal with your emotions
  • time management, planning and personal organisation skills

Dyspraxia should not be confused with other disorders affecting movement, such as cerebral palsy and stroke. It can affect people of all intellectual abilities.

When to see a GP

See a GP if you think you may have undiagnosed dyspraxia or problems with your co-ordination. It’s a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms.

The GP may refer you to a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist for tests. They’ll assess your movements and how your symptoms are affecting you before making a diagnosis.

If you have dyspraxia, you may also have other conditions, such as:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • dyslexia
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • difficulty learning or understanding maths (dyscalculia)
  • depression or anxiety

Causes of dyspraxia

It’s not known what causes dyspraxia. You may be at a higher risk of developing it if you were born prematurely.

Dyspraxia is more common in men and often runs in families.

Treatment for dyspraxia

There is no cure for dyspraxia but there are therapies that can help with daily living, such as:

  • occupational therapy – to help you find practical ways to remain independent and manage everyday tasks such as writing or preparing food
  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave

It may also help if you:

  • keep fit – you may find regular exercise helps with co-ordination, reduces feelings of fatigue and prevents you gaining weight
  • learn how to use a computer or laptop if writing by hand is difficult
  • use a calendar, diary or app to improve your organisation
  • learn how to talk positively about your challenges and how you’ve overcome them
  • get support from programmes such as Access to Work from Jobcentre Plus

Support for people living with dyspraxia

Dyspraxia can have a big effect on your life, but support is available to help you manage your condition.

It might help to talk to others with dyspraxia or to connect with a charity.

You may find these charity and forum links useful:

  • Dyspraxia Foundation – it has a list of local support groups you can join to share your experiences with others
  • Dyspraxic Adults – a forum for adults with dyspraxia
  • Movement Matters UK – see its page of useful links

Help us to improve our website

If you have dyspraxia, please do you have a few moments to help us today?

Page last reviewed: 01 October 2020
Next review due: 01 October 2023

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Inhibitory motor control problems may be unique identifier in adults with ADHD

Date: November 16, 2016 Source: Penn State Summary: Young adults diagnosed with ADHD may display subtle physiological signs that could lead to a more precise diagnosis, according to researchers. Share:


Young adults diagnosed with ADHD may display subtle physiological signs that could lead to a more precise diagnosis, according to Penn State researchers.

In a recent study, young adults with ADHD, when performing a continuous motor task, had more difficulty inhibiting a motor response compared to young adults who did not have ADHD. The participants with ADHD also produced more force during the task compared to participants without ADHD.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood disorder that can continue to affect up to 65 percent of these children as they become adults, according to the researchers.

«A large group of individuals have the label ‘ADHD,’ but present with different symptoms,» said Kristina A. Neely, assistant professor, kinesiology. «One of the goals of our ADHD research is to discover unique physiological signals that may characterize different subgroups of the disorder.»

Previous studies have shown that some individuals with ADHD may have poor control of their motor systems, but until recently, the way that it was measured was not very sensitive.

«In previous tasks, motor and cognitive function was evaluated with a key-press response: You hit the button or you didn’t,» said Neely. «We measure precisely how much force an individual is producing during a continuous motor task. This type of task provides us with more information than the dichotomous ‘yes/no’ response.»

In a recent study using a continuous motor task, participants produced force with their index finger and thumb in response to cues on a visual display. Participants were instructed to produce force when the visual cue was any color except blue. In the «blue» trials, participants were told to withhold force production.

Neely and colleagues found that participants with ADHD symptoms produced more force on trials when they were told to withhold a response, compared to those without ADHD. Further, the amount of force that was produced during these trials was correlated with specific ADHD-related symptoms. The researchers presented their findings at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting Nov. 15.

«The use of a precise and continuous motor task provides a more nuanced understanding of inhibitory control, compared to a button-press task,» said Neely. «We found that young adults with ADHD produced more force on the ‘blue’ trials compared to young adults without ADHD. And the amount of force produced was related to self-report of ADHD-related symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Moving forward, we will manipulate the parameters of our force-production task to determine which aspects of motor control are related to specific symptoms.»

Understanding the impact of particular types of ADHD and their effect on motor function could lead to more targeted diagnoses — which could aid in determining optimal treatment options for patients based on their specific symptom profile.

    • Health & Medicine
      • Attention Deficit Disorder
      • Mental Health Research
      • Nervous System
      • Diseases and Conditions
      • Mental Health
      • ADD and ADHD
      • Neuroscience
      • Child Development
        • Controversy about ADHD
        • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
        • Adult attention-deficit disorder
        • Methylphenidate
        • Lead
        • Psychopharmacology
        • Alzheimer’s disease
        • Asperger syndrome
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