Learning Disabilities Series – Dyspraxia

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As I’ve have been asked by parents on how to confirm Dyspraxia in their child, I thought it would be a good idea to make it the next condition  in the learning series. The information gathered can be found in a number of publications and on the internet but the best source is to go to www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk for up to date information.

Dyspraxia – is a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) affecting the fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. The name is Latin with the ‘dys’ meaning ‘faulty’ and ‘praxia’ meaning ‘the ability to use the body as a skilled tool’. It may also affect speech.It affect 10% of the population; male more than female and can run in the family. It is a lifelong condition but if recognized early, can give the individual techniques and tips on how to work with the condition.

Characteristics of Dyspraxia – child or adult may present with some of the following traits.

  • clumsiness and problem with coordination
  • overbalancing when changing direction
  • poor listening skills
  • may have difficulties with reading and spelling
  • may have poor handwriting
  • poor social interaction skills
  • may have no sense of danger and therefore need careful supervision wen on playground equipment
  • find using pencils, scissors and simple toys hard
  • may have difficulty adapting to the structure and routines of school
  • my display aggressive behavior due to lack of coordination and inability to control movements

Symptoms – 

By 3 years old

  • slow to achieve expected developmental milestones
  • may fail to go through the crawling stages, preferring to ‘bottom shuffle’ and the walk. they usually avoid task that require manual dexterity.

3 – 5 years old

  • may be easily distressed and prone to temper tantrums.
  • constantly bump into object and fall over.
  • persistent language difficulties
  • poor fine motor skills; difficulty in holding a pencil
  • limited concentration
  • difficulty with pedaling a tricycle or similar toy
  • continued messy eating; prefer to eat with fingers

By 7 years old

  • slow at dressing; unable to tie shoelaces
  • inability to form relationships with other children
  • slow completion of class work
  • problems with coordination a knife and fork

By 8 to 9 years old

  • handwriting is poor
  • may become disaffected with the education system

Secondary school age

  • writing difficulties both with style and speed
  • extremes of emotions; highly excitable at times and evidence of mood swings
  • often loners and have limited development of social skills
  • sensitive to external stimulation
  • poor short term visual and verbal memory – copying from the board, dictation, following instructions
  • difficulties with physical activities

So what next?

The earlier the diagnosis the greater the chances of improvement. If you suspect dyspraxia in our child, talk to your GP, health visitor or special needs coordinator. They may refer you to health professionals who will be able to help with the diagnosis and assessment. The assessment will take into account the child’s developmental history, intellectual ability i.e. how they are progressing with reading and writing and also includes tests for the fine and gross motor skills.

What can you do as a parent?

  • Ensure identification is done as early as possible
  • Practise skills with our child, spending time together makes a big difference and make it fun.
  • Encourage activities to enhance coordination i.e. playing ball games in the garden, swimming, teaching our child to ride a bike, all helps.
  • Talk through activities – such as putting o a piece of clothing and ask them how they think they could do it better.
  • Help them learn social skills – encourage them to make friend and take part in activities outside the home.

To those with children diagnosed with Dyspraxia, help is available.

Until next time.