Dyspraxia is derived from the two words “dys” (meaning difficulty) and “praxis” (meaning movement). Dyspraxia is also known as Development Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) Minimal Brain Dysfunction: Motor learning Difficulty; and Pereceptuo-motor Dysfunction or in the past Clumsy Child Syndrome.
It is defined as difficulty with thinking out, planning and carrying out sensory/motor tasks. Dyspraxia is primarily a development co-ordination disorder. It is an immaturity in the way the brain processes information which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted.
Students with dyspraxia have difficulty in their overall co-ordination leading to problems in handwriting, copying from the board, poor concentration and organisation.
How common is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is thought to affect up to ten percent of the population with two percent severely affected. Dyspraxia is four times more common in males than females and can co-exist with other conditions such as Dyslexia, ADD or ADHD.
The main characteristics of Dyspraxia are as follows:
Gross Motor Skills
- Difficulty in planning and executing large movements such as walking in a straight line, running, riding a bike, hopping, skipping, batching a ball
- Tripping frequently, having poor posture, bumping into things, being accident prone
Fine Motor Skills
- Difficulty in planning and executing finer movements such as handwriting, sewing, typing, using a knife and fork, holding a pencil, tying shoes laces, brushing teeth, using scissors, closing zips or buttons
- Poor spatial awareness showing confusion between left/right, back/front, b/ds p/qs,
- Visual perceptual difficulties that result in difficulties with reading fluency, copying and writing
- Auditory perceptual difficulties that result in not being able to follow a set of oral instructions, or being easily distracted by background sound.
- Slow to respond to a question even if they know the answer
- Speech can be slow and laboured and some children can be diagnosed as have Verbal Dyspraxia
- Unable to line up numbers on page resulting in careless mistakes, poor ability in drawing geometric shapes
- Losing/forgetting things, not being able to remember sequences such as months of the year in order, not being able to follow a set of instructions and so appears not to be “listening” or concentrating, being unable to structure thoughts while writing a story
- Lacking in confidence resulting in poor self esteem, frustration, anxiety. Not fitting in with their peer group. Not picking up on non-verbal communication of others.
- Not all children will display all of theses characteristics and some all children with dyspraxia will have varying degrees of difficulties.
Identifying dyspraxia at an early age
The pre-school child with dyspraxia will often show some of the following symptoms:
- Delay in reaching normal milestones for crawling, sitting, walking, speaking
- Difficulties with running, jumping, hopping compared to children of their onw age
- Poor spatial awareness top/bottom in front/behind
- Slow at walking up and down steps
- Poor awareness of how to act in social settings with other people
- Bumping into things and falling over easily
- Avoids jigsaws or sorting shapes
- Over anxiousness
Getting a diagnosis of dyspraxia
If you suspect that your child has dyspraxia you should first consult your child’s GP. The GP should then give you a letter of referral to see a neurologist, an occupational therapist or a related professional for a diagnosis. Dyspraxia can only be diagnosed following thorough examinations by doctors and related professionals. In general children with Dyspraxia are able to participate in mainstream classes and further help can be given by Learning Support or a Special Needs Assistant (SNA)
Sometimes Dyspraxia is not identified until the child reaches secondary school. He may have coped through primary school with only minor difficulties. However the structure of secondary may prove too difficult for the student and it is at this point that problems may arise in view of the organisational skills that are required in secondary school.
For further information contact: The Dyspraxia Association Of Ireland
www.dyspraxiaireland.com Tel 01-8747085