I present you an article describing the nature of Dyspraxia and the way it effects children. Useful to help understand the technical terms professionals use, as well as providing a list of things to look for.
What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a brain immaturity; messages sent from the brain are not properly transmitted to the body. Most problems are with the organisation of movement, although there may also be difficulties with language, thought and perception. About 5% of the population are affected by Dyspraxia, 70% of whom are boys. Dyspraxia used to be called ‘clumsy child’ syndrome. It is a hidden disability, with all of the associated disadvantages. Other names used by special needs professionals may be:
- Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
- Minimal Brain Dysfunction
- Motor Learning Difficulty
- Perceptuo – motor Dysfunction
- Developmental Dyspraxia
Most problems for those with Dyspraxia are associated with the organisation of movement, although there may also be difficulties with language, thought and perception. It is a disorder that can also be found in children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder). (See article on this site by same author)
What are the features of dyspraxia?
All children are individuals, and so may not exhibit all of the characteristics noted below. However, if your child has some of these indicators it is worth talking to his class teacher who will liase with the SENCO (SPecial Needs COordinator) to help your child. If your child is not yet at school, talk to your Health Visitor who will be able to give you access to the appropriate professionals.
Some problems linked with dyspraxia
- clumsiness, uncoordinated movement, constantly bumping into things
- poor posture, hunched shoulders etc.
- walks awkwardly
- inability to decide which hand to favour, showing confusion over which hand to use. This may lead to your child having difficulty with hand-eye coordination, unable to throw or catch a ball.
- sensitivity to touch. He may not like the feel of certain fabrics next to his skin and find particular items of clothing uncomfortable. He may also find that plasters are too uncomfortable, he is too sensitive for these against his skin as well.
- poor short-term memory. Dyspraxics have difficulty in recalling tasks from the previous day. He may not remember the skills he seemed to have mastered previously. He may seem to be ‘slow’ as he finds it difficult to perform routine tasks that his peers find easy and automatic.
- reading/writing difficulties. The dyspraxic child finds holding a pencil uncomfortable and may not remember how to form his letters correctly. His work may be generally untidy and badly organised. Writing on lines in schoolbooks will require a supreme effort, and may still look messy.
- by the time your child has started school, most of his classmates will have learnt to pedal a bicycle, hop and skip. These motor skills are hard for the child with dyspraxia to learn and retain.
- most children on entering school can easily dress themselves ready for the day ahead. However, the dyspraxic child finds this task difficult to learn, and may also have great trouble feeding themselves properly and efficiently. This can have an alienating effect with his peers who find his feeding habits repulsive.
- language difficulties. When questioned directly your child may not give the correct response, even when he knows the answer.
- your child may have speech problems. These can be manifested by your child being slow at learning to speak, or the sounds they make are unintelligible as sentences with meaning.
- your child may exhibit phobias, or show obsessive behaviour. He may be impatient, not liking his teeth or hair brushing, or his hair or nails cut.
Dyspraxia is not something that your child will ‘grow out of’, although most children with dyspraxia will be integrated into mainstream schools with ease. Early identification of dyspraxia is essential as school based programmes are extremely efficient at helping children cope with this disability.