The Sensitive Gut

Understanding IBS

Dyspraxia: but are your bowels awkward as well?

dyspraxiaRuby replies:

I have often wondered about this, as 90% of everyone I know with dyspraxia in real life seems to have really sensitive stomachs- including me. This makes sense to me; since a lot of us are very sensitive on the outside, why not the inside?

I hardly get ill, but when I do it is always my stomach that will ‘go down’ first. I am really susceptible to severe heartburn, bloatedness, wind, indigestion and constipation. I am very sensitive to processed foods; if I eat them for more than a couple of days, all my symptoms get worse and I feel lethargic and ‘foggy’ and find it much harder to remember to do things.  If I limit processed foods, it makes a massive difference to all my symptoms and even improves my brain function, so I try to eat very healthily and have small portions. Thankfully, I love cooking and so does my boyfriend.  

My stomach has always been very ‘borderline’.  I had gastroenteritis  when I was little; perhaps that’s the reason. I also have a nut allergy and am aware of a correlation between allergic conditions and learning difficulties including dyspraxia.  I wonder whether anyone else feels the same.

Dyspraxia is the medical term for clumsiness.  It is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).  It tends to be diagnosed in children, but children grow up and it can also occur in adults.

People with dyspraxia lack coordination and find it difficult to place themselves in time and space. They may bump into objects, drop things, find it difficult to catch or throw balls, fall off their bikes, have slow handwriting, trip over and have little sense of rhythm.

But there there is more to it that just clumsiness; people with dyspraxia can also exhibit a somewhat rigid, automatic mode of emotional expression.  They often show a lack of spontaneity.  They tend not to see the quickest way of doing things, but have to ‘wander round the houses’ before finding a solution.  Instead of doing things intuitively using their bodily memory, they need to think things through and often get it wrong.   They may struggle to organize their thoughts or sentences.  They can tend to take things literally.

All of this can mean that it takes them far longer to learn new skills or concepts. Often labeled as dyslexic; they have difficulties in reading and writing and cannot easily put ideas together.

Want to know more?  Look at Abi’s video.

Since dyspraxia and dyslexia are both autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and associated with learning difficulties,  parents and teachers can get frustrated with such children. They can also get quite frustrated with themselves. They are often seen as a little strange at school and may be ridiculed and bullied.  As a result, they may become constantly vigilant, fearful of criticism and socially isolated.  The constant high levels of emotional tension may act via the autonomic nervous system to affect their guts.   Like Ruby, people with dyspraxia frequently complain of bowel difficulties, especially diarrhea, constipation and food intolerances.

What is the cause of dyspraxia?

Nobody knows.  It is said to be a disorder of the development of the central nervous system.  Most children have been dyspraxic from birth or shortly after.  There may be a genetic component, but more dyspraxic children than normal have been born prematurely.  Their poor recognition of facial emotion might suggest they might have had difficulty in bonding due to difficulties in ‘reading’ their mothers gaze or tone of voice.  Studies have shown that infants with ASD tend to avoid eye contact.

Human infants make frequent eye contact with their mothers as early as 4 weeks, allowing them to set their own emotional tone and learn how to be by mimicking their mother’s facial expression.  If, for any reason, there is difficulty making eye contact, this may impair bonding and limit reassurance.  As a result, infants with dyspraxia would be more likely to develop an avoidant pattern of attachment and find it difficult to learn those social nuances that build intuition and coordination.   The increased emotional tension, this would cause, would also affect the bowels via the autonomic nervous system.  This would all seem to make perfect sense, but when it has been tested by studying the relationship between mother and infant, there is little objective evidence to support it. 

There are other possibilities.  In the last few years, clinical scientists have become increasingly aware of how changes in the microbiome, caused by difficulties in feeding, gut infections, antibiotics or even caesarian section or bottle feeling might affect the central nervous system.  There is even evidence to suggest that Ruby’s nut allergy may have also conditioned her dyspraxia in some way, perhaps through intestinal permeability and the vagus nerve.

When it comes to brain gut interactions, there is rarely one answer.











2 comments on “Dyspraxia: but are your bowels awkward as well?

  1. Pingback: Helping my sensitive gut – essentialonion

  2. Heather
    July 22, 2021

    Some of this article is helpful, but some is downright incorrect. Dyspraxia and dyslexia are NOT Autism Spectrum Disorders. They are entirely separate neurologically based disorders of motor planning (dyspraxia) and reading (dyslexia).


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This entry was posted on December 20, 2016 by in neurological disorders, other conditions and tagged , .

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