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What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is most frequently recognized and referred to as an impairment in an individual’s ability to organise movement. It  falls under the umbrella term of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), which refers to difficulties with fine and/or gross motor co-ordination. A massive affect 5 – 10% of school-aged children are thought to have Dyspraxia, meaning it is actually quite common.

Unfortunately, Dyspraxia can have a negative impact on a child’s life as this difficulty with co-ordination often affects the individual’s participation in every day activities. Children with dyspraxia often struggle with many educational and recreational activities such as writing, typing, riding a bike and general play. These problems continue into adulthood and present through new challenges such as dealing with work, time management, personal organisation and driving.  Because of this, there can be many social or emotional troubles that people with Dyspraxia must face on a daily basis.

It is thought that there could be at least one child with Dyspraxia in every classroom, as more and more children are being diagnosed each year. Identifying dyspraxia early on enables early intervention to help the individual cope with their condition. So, is it possible your child has Dyspraxia?

What causes Dyspraxia?

The absolute cause of dyspraxia is unknown, and no ‘dyspraxia gene’ has been identified. Although it is not proven, it is thought there may be a link between dyspraxia and premature birth, a family history of dyspraxia and being born under weight. It’s thought to be caused by a disruption in the way messages from the brain are transmitted to the body, hence the individuals inability to perform movements in a smooth, organised way.

It starts in the brain. The cerebral cortex is divided into a left and right hemisphere, in those with dyspraxia it is thought the two hemispheres are not responding to each other in a simultaneous, coordinated way. The cortex also surrounds the limbic system, which is responsible for the bodies’ instinctive and automatic responses.

Symptoms of Dyspraxia

dyspraxiaSymptoms of dyspraxia may be apparent from the very early stages of development. For example, the child may take longer to roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, walk and speak. As the child grows they will display problems during play, such as difficulty running, jumping, catching or kicking a ball, often they will have problems in most activities than require coordinated movement.

They may also find games such as jigsaws difficult, as well as using scissors, tying shoelaces or doing up buttons. Children with Dyspraxia also often bump into or drop objects frequently. As you can imagine, this means that activities such as PE can be very difficult for the child to participate in, they may be labeled as clumsy and may ultimately begin to avoid certain situations.

As the child progresses, they may also present a noticeably short attention span, poor listening skills and may have difficulty picking up skills automatically or at the rate that other children are able to. The child may also have difficulties reading and spelling and have poor handwriting, which is one of the most common results of Dyspraxia.

Verbal & Oral Dyspraxia

Verbal dyspraxia refers to difficultly co-coordinating articulate movements in order to produce clear speech. Oral dyspraxia on the other hand is a difficulty coordinating movements in the vocal tract in the absence of speech. For example, a child with the latter may not be able to stick their tongue out on request.

Developmental verbal Dyspraxia may be improved through reading and writing exercises. They tend to have a poor understanding of the messages that their senses convey and difficulty in relaying those messages to action.

Finding help

Dyspraxia is not a curable condition, however children may improve with maturity. Appropriate and practical treatment can also lessen symptoms and minimize daily difficulties.

Helping pre-school children

If you think your child may have dyspraxia, it is best to talk to your GP and health visitor. They can then transfer your child to a pediatrician or Child Development Centre.

Help for school-age children

Again, it is best to visit your GP, or a school nurse, school doctor or special needs coordinator who can make a referral for assessments. If you seek special treatments or tests a hospital referral will be required.

Help for adults

A GP can refer you to a clinical psychologist, consultant neurologist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.





About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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