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Dyspraxia

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Understanding the condition

 

Dyspraxia is a Developmental Co-ordination Disorder. It is a lifelong condition. Dyspraxia occurs across all intellectual abilities and can change over time due to environmental factors and life experiences. It is thought to be caused by an interruption in messages from the brain to the body.

Children with dyspraxia may find day to day life skills and activities challenging, including self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities.

 

Difficulties with co-ordination may lead to challenges with participation in school if the child is not properly supported, given sufficient time and patience to undertake activities for example holding a pencil to write, holding a paint brush, eating lunch, taking part in sports, getting changed and moving around the school.

Associated conditions

 

Children with dyspraxia may also experience social and emotional difficulties as well as difficulties with time management, planning and personal organisation.

Challenges faced by students

 

The earlier a child with Dyspraxia can be diagnosed the better. By age 3-5 without diagnosis and appropriate support, a child can become frustrated and experience lower self-esteem.

 

Here are a few examples of the challenges 3-7 year-olds may experience, this is a guide but not every child will be the same in terms of what they experience:

  • Messy eating. Children with Dyspraxia may choose to continue to eat with their fingers and may frequently spill their drinks.

  • May frequently bump into objects or fall over.

  • Flap hands when running or moving fast.

  • May find it difficult to stay still, including feet swinging and tapping when seated.

  • Appearing to be “over excited”, often with loud shrills of excitement.

  • Difficulties with co-ordination in using a bike or other pedal ride on toys.

  • Difficulties with fine motor skills such as holding a pencil or a paint brush.

  • Lack of understanding of danger such as running into a road.

  • May find managing emotions difficult, often becoming distressed or having “temper tantrums”.

  • May lack ability to engage in creative play such as dressing up or role playing in a role play corner.

  • Left or right handedness is not established.

  • Ongoing language difficulties.

  • May experience particular sensitivity to sounds such as if there is a loud alarm/bell at school, children are loud in the playground, overhead noises such as aeroplanes or fire engines, police cars and ambulance and touch such as new clothes, touching materials in class to create work e.g. glue, textiles, paint.

  • Difficulties with concentration which may lead to work being left unfinished.

  • May have difficulties in understanding verbal instruction and as a result may be unresponsive or slow to respond.

By age 7, as a teacher you may notice that your student finds challenges in the following areas:

  • Participating in sports

  • Getting dressed, especially shoelaces

  • Difficulties with handwriting. It may prove difficult to read.

  • Difficulties with concentration and listening.

  • Reporting feeling unwell such as headaches, migraines, feeling sick.

  • They may continue to have high levels of motor activity and continue to get “over excited” including hand flapping and “shrieking”.

  • May continue to appear “emotional”, often getting distressed and appearing to have “temper tantrums”.

 

By 8/9 if a child has not been diagnosed, they may start to disengage with education.