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Dyspraxia
 
Dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. Associated with this there may be problems of language, perception and thought processes. It affects at least 2% of the population to varying degrees and 70% of those affected are male.
Other names for Dyspraxia are "Clumsy Child Syndrome", Perceptuo-motor Dysfunction, Minimal Brain Dysfunction, Motor Learning Difficulty.

MOVEMENT
Gross and fine motor skills are hard to learn, difficult to retain and generalise, and hesitant and awkward in performance.

LANGUAGE
Articulation may be immature or even unintelligible in early years. Language may be impaired or late to develop.
 
PERCEPTION
There is often a poor understanding of the messages that the sense convey and difficulty in relating those message to actions.

THOUGHT
Dyspraxic children of normal intelligence may have great difficulty in planning and organising thoughts. Those with moderate learning difficulties may have these problems to a greater extent.

WHAT ARE THE INDICATORS?
These are some of the difficulties experienced by children with dyspraxia. All children are different and not all of these will apply to every child.
Clumsiness
Speech problems, slow to learn to speak or speech may be incoherent
Poor posture
Walks awkwardly
Poor short term memory . Poor body awareness
Cannot hop, skip or ride a bike
Slow to learn to dress or learn to feed themselves
Cannot hold a pen or pencil properly/writing and drawing problems
Difficulties throwing and catching a ball . Poor social skills
Spatial problems - maps, plans,
diagrams, telling the time, shape work, design & technology

WHAT TO DO NEXT?
Discuss the problems with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) in order to share your concerns and clarify the level of difficulty experienced in school.
Most problems would be dealt with through the resources normally available to schools. These may include strategies in the classroom such as:-
Teaching strategies to help them remember and organise themselves, e.g. diaries and lists,
Allowing access to alternative methods of recording work, e.g. use of laptop, use of a dictaphone,
Using a sloping surface for writing,
Pair the child with a more co-ordinated friend,
Teach the child to talk himself through visual and spatial tasks, e.g. letter formation and maths,
 Enlarge parts of busy page and space it out in a book.

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
Be patient. Give the child as much encouragement as possible and make sure they are not made to feel a failure.
Break down activities and tasks into smaller component parts.
Consider contacting your GP or Health Visitor for referral to appropriate therapist, e.g. Speech Therapist for Verbal Dyspraxia (speech problems), Occupational Therapist . Ensure all instructions are clear and precise. Don't be satisfied with a nod from a child when you have given instructions. Ask the child to repeat the instructions or information you have given him.
Allow child to use laptop, computer or other means of recording at home.
With a younger child don't insist on the child tying his own laces, provide velcro or other more practical fastenings.


Ged Balmer
Chartered Educational Psychologist
Cert. Ed., BSc.(Hons), MSc.,
C. Psychol., AFBPsS.
British Psychological Society No: 34097
in collaboration with colleagues

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Chartered Educational Psychologist
"advice, assessment and an independent opinion"