According to Sensory Integration Theory, ‘praxis’ or ‘motor planning’ is the ability to create ideas about how to act and interact with the environment; carry out the action plans; and correct one’s actions so that the motor execution matches the desired outcome.
These three areas: ideation (the idea), planning (putting together the steps and sequence), and execution (the motor phase) work together to allow the individual to organise his or her behaviour in time and space.
Praxis is a learned skill and changes across the lifespan; its development depends on the individual’s experiences. The ability to efficiently motor plan is based on thinking skills as well as integrated sensory development.
Our motor planning abilities are considered an essential foundation for learning and classroom performance.
Definitions of Praxis:
Praxis is a uniquely human skill that enables us to interact effectively with the physical world [Ayres, 1985].
Praxis is the ability of the brain to conceive of, organise and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions [Ayres, 1973].
Praxis is the neurological process by which cognition directs motor action, motor or action planning is that intermediary process which bridges ideation and motor execution to enable adaptive interactions with physical world [Ayres, 1985].
A problem with planning, sequencing and executing unfamiliar actions resulting in awkward and poorly co-ordinated motor skills typically seen with a sensory processing deficit. It is usually seen with difficulty doing new activities or those that are done infrequently
Issues associated with poor praxis:
- Delayed developmental milestones
- Difficulty following multi-step directions
- Poor planning and difficulties with spatial awareness
- Poor performance in gross and fine motor skills
- Strong desire for sameness or routines
- Has an awkward pen/pencil grasp
- Has poor handwriting and difficulties copying
- Dislikes or reluctant to participate in sports
- Intense and easily frustrated
- Problems with daily life tasks like dressing or using utensils / cutlery
- Poor organisational skills
[Ref: May-Benson, Teasdale & Koomar, 2006]