People living with dyspraxia are still often misunderstood and unfairly labelled by the public, according to the results of a new survey.

The survey by the Dyspraxia Foundation found that 70% of people admitted to thinking that behavioural, social and learning problems were simply an excuse for naughty or disruptive children. This figure has only dropped by 4% in the 6 years since the poll was first run.

But the survey, timed to coincide with Dyspraxia Awareness Week (13-19 October), did find that awareness of the condition has marginally improved since 2007 with 51% saying they had heard of dyspraxia, compared to 49% in 2007.

Once often referred to as ‘clumsy child’ syndrome, dyspraxia, a form of developmental coordination disorder, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults.

Dyspraxia refers to people who have additional problems planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech, perception and thought.

The condition affects around 5% of the population – 2% severely – and males are up to three times more likely to be affected than females. Dyspraxia sometimes runs in families and there are believed to be 1-2 children affected in every class of 30 children.

Chartered physiotherapist and chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation, Michele Lee, said: “Whilst there are some encouraging signs in terms of our messages penetrating the public’s perception of dyspraxia what this survey highlights is that there is still much work to be done in educating parents, teachers and employers about the difficulties faced by people living with the condition.

“All too often we hear anecdotal reports of young people with dyspraxia struggling at school – in the playground as well as in the classroom. Further or higher education presents additional problems, which frequently prevent teenagers and young adults completing courses or training programmes. And, from the many calls and inquiries we receive at the Dyspraxia Foundation, there is little doubt that a serious lack of understanding of the condition leading, in some cases, to a prejudice towards those affected, can have a serious impact on an individual’s employment prospects.

“As an organisation, representing the voice of the dyspraxic people, we feel we have a duty to redress this balance and challenge the myths and misunderstandings that surround the condition.”