What is Praxis?

Praxis is the ability to conceptualize, sequence & execute purposeful actions towards achieving a goal. It
has several components including –
-Generating an idea for action and knowing what actions are possible with a given object. For
example, if you have a ball knowing you can kick and throw it…but not stand on it
-The ability to organize a motor task. For example, thinking about what materials you need for a
craft project
-The ability to sequence actions. For example, figuring out the steps for getting dressed or to pack
a backpack
-The ability to execute the motor action. For example, climbing up a ladder & going down the
-The ability to use feedback from one’s experience to understand performance and if
adjustments need to be made. For example, adjusting how you throw a ball after you miss a

Praxis is woven into many daily life functions for all individuals. Praxis supports the development of
concrete skills such as dressing, writing, and motor development. Praxis also influences broader life
skills such as classroom participation and organization, play and social skills, and emotional regulation.

What Are the Foundations of Praxis?

Effective praxis requires effective discrimination of sensory input from the tactile (touch), proprioceptive
(muscles and joints) and vestibular (movement) systems. Sensory discrimination allows us to understand
the qualities of the sensory input during our everyday experiences. For example – Is the item in my
pocket a quarter or a paperclip? Am I moving quickly or slowly? Is the jug of milk I’m pouring from heavy
and mostly filled? These sensory systems must provide the body with automatic and accurate
information in order for the body to be able to have accurate plan movements.
Effective praxis also has some touch points with higher level executive functioning, particularly related
to ideation, or the ability to come up with an idea and understand what is possible or not possible with a
given object and planning and organizing for an activity.

What Does It Look Like When Praxis Abilities are Developed?

Individuals with developed praxis skills often-
– Are able to do expected daily age expected tasks, such as getting dressed and packing their
-Transition between tasks and activities
-Figure out how to approach, learn and replicate new skills
-Are able to generate and explore a range of ideas for play

-Able to regulate in environments and activities with planning demands, such as social activities
and sports

What Does It Look Like When an Individual Could Use Support to Develop Praxis Skills?

Individuals who are developing praxis skills may –
-Benefit from assistance from completing daily age expected tasks, such as dressing and
completing classroom activities
-Have a need for routine and need additional support to transition between activities
-Have preferences for playing familiar activities or playing with a toy in a familiar way
-Be cautious to attempt new activities and prefer to be an observer
-Have fluctuations in their regulation state based on task demand – for example, they might be
emotional when attempting a new activity or game

What Does Intervention to Support Praxis Abilities Look Like?

Occupational therapy and physical therapy practitioners who have advanced training in sensory
integration provide intervention to support praxis skills of the individuals they serve. Therapists use a
“bottom up” approach by first addressing the individual’s underlying sensory discrimination abilities
through enhanced sensory input. As these sensory systems develop, the therapist begins to introduce
targeted praxis activities to provide opportunities to meet the individual’s unique needs. This often
includes generating new ideas for activities, providing opportunities for repetition of tasks, and
developing the ability to plan and execute motivating motor activities. In addition, therapists provide
accommodations and strategies to use in everyday environments to meet a child’s current abilities.

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