Children with dyspraxia have issues in planning and completing fine and gross motor skills. These children will struggle with simple tasks like coordination, movement, judgement, memorising things and processing information.
Life for children with dyspraxia can be difficult. But it’s something that can be worked upon.
With treatment and therapy, you can do enough to lead a normal life. In fact, several celebrities including the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Cara Delevingne, Florence Welch, Richard Branson among many others were affected by dyspraxia. Even Albert Einstein reportedly had dyspraxia. And all of these individuals have done just fine in their careers, setting examples for other people.
So if you have a child who is struggling with dyspraxia at the moment don’t lose hope. They are as intelligent and as special as they need to be. Sll they need is a little support, love and care from family, teachers and peers to get by.
Today, we tell you about this disorder and how to help a child with dyspraxia. Read on to know more.
What Is Dyspraxia?
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It’s a developmental coordination disorder that affects the body’s immune and nervous systems.
The body is unable to simple tasks like waving “hi” and carry out tasks that require step-by-step directions and mix mental and physical actions. For the child, it may completely confuse them and they won’t be able to do it right.
That’s because the child is unable to plan, coordinate and process motor tasks. Essentially, the brain does not process information that sends actions to different parts of the body. So, something like, “turn the knob to the right to three clicks,” would go completely over the child’s head.
Kids with dyspraxia also have language problems and struggle with thought and perception. However, a child’s intelligence is not related to the disorder. They are just unable to plan what to do and how to do it.
Experts suggest that about 10 per cent of the population suffers from a certain level of dyspraxia. Meanwhile, only two per cent are severely affected by it. Furthermore, dyspraxia affects boys more than girls, but there is a larger debate on whether it’s been diagnosed enough in girls.
Dyspraxia can overlap with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), along with dyslexia and dyscalculia in children.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dyspraxia?
Children with dyspraxia can show these symptoms:
- Poor balance
- Perception issue
- Different speech
- Poor body posture
- Poor hand-eye coordination
In toddlers, the symptoms may include:
- Inability to crawl and walk properly, or sit.
- Slow in answering questions repeat words or sounds and difficulty in identifying patterns.
- They may also take longer to get potty-trained.
- Kids with dyspraxia may also struggle to stand on their own.
With older children, the dyspraxia-related problems may be a bit more obvious, these include:
- Struggling to tie shoelaces, buttons, zips, and write
- Difficulty in getting dressed
- Playing games that require hand-eye coordination
- Difficulty in using stationery like pencils, colours, and scissors
- Kids are unable to process their thoughts
- They are not able to make friends in school or the playground
- Children with dyspraxia find it difficult to keep their focus on one task
- They are more likely to be clumsy and drop things
- Difficulty in learning new things and skills
- Taking down notes in the class
- Making friends
- Difficulty in following instructions
How Can Your Diagnose Dyspraxia?
If you think your child is exhibiting symptoms of dyspraxia, you may want to check with your paediatrician first. They will then direct you to a clinical child psychologist and even an educational psychologist.
Doctors check the child’s developmental history, intellectual ability, gross and fine motor skills, as part of the evaluation process.
The medical professional will also need to know when the child hit their developmental milestones like crawling, walking, speaking. In most cases, this will be later than the ideal period.
The evaluators will also check the kids for touch sensitivity, balance, walking and more.
How Can You Treat Dyspraxia?
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Dyspraxia is not curable but it’s a condition that can improve with the right treatment. Children with dyspraxia can undergo some of these therapies to improve their hand-eye coordination and other fine and gross motor skills.
- Occupational therapy: This helps children carry out specific day-to-day activities at home and in school that they would’ve found difficult.
- Speech and language therapy: A therapist will work with the child to improve their speech and build better communication skills.
- Perceptual motor training: The therapist helps the child improve their language, movement, visual and auditory skills.
- Active play: Experts suggest that getting any kind of physical activity at the home, playground and in school, is a great way to improve fine motor skills. Children under holistic development when playing including physical and emotional learning, development of language, awareness of their surroundings and more. The more parents can engage children with dyspraxia in physical activity, the faster improvement they will show.
How To Help A Child With Dyspraxia: 5 Ways You Can Do It
Like we stated earlier, children with dyspraxia only need your support to get by. They are intelligent and smart, just like any other child in the classroom but have an additional barrier, which makes things more difficult.
As parents, teachers and peers, here’s what you can do to make their learning and growth process easier.
1. Having the right stationery
- Children with dyspraxia struggle with writing tasks and require special stationery to make things easier. This includes wide-stemmed pens or pencils, rubber grip on their writing utensils.
- Kids with dyspraxia will be more comfortable using felt-tip pens as opposed to ballpoint pens.
- Keep plenty of erasers handy to correct mistakes
- A graph paper will be great to help them understand letter placement and spacing
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2. Use Touch-typing over handwriting notes
Want to know how to help a child with dyspraxia? You can start by allowing them to use electronic devices.
- Children with dyspraxia struggle with handwriting but find touch-typing simpler and easier. Allowing kids to use a computer or another electronic device to take down notes will help.
- Alternatively, you can set up children with dyspraxia with a classmate as a note-buddy who can either share notes or write them down.
3. Avoid lengthy handwriting assignments
Since kids with dyspraxia struggle with handwriting assignments, it will be helpful if teachers can device more assignments or exam papers that do not require the same. Instead, teachers can conduct exams using the following methods:
- Fill in the blanks
- Multiple-choice answers
- Match the following
4. Make the child sit in the front row
Children with dyspraxia will find it beneficial to stay at the front of the classroom where they a better view of the board. Teachers should also keep them away from doors, windows and bulletins that can be distracting to the child.
5. Give them extra time
Kids with dyspraxia require more time than usual to complete tasks and this applies at home and in school. More time to finish food, homework, get dressed or take a bath.
Similarly, children will need more time than usual to complete assigned work, exams and understand instructions.
Another way you can learn how to help a child with dyspraxia is by giving visual cues for instructions instead of just verbal notes.
Dyspraxia can be frustrating for parents and teachers around the child but think about it from the child’s perspective. Their brain does not register that particular instruction or is not able to tell the hands or legs to carry out a specific movement.
However, with a little bit of help and lots of therapy, kids will be able to overcome the odds and live a normal life.
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