Dyspraxia

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year and I've changed my opinions on many things over the years. Deleting things I wrote years ago would be like ripping pages out of a diary so I'm not going to do it despite the fact that some stuff I've written in the past will probably be used against me during elections by UKIP hating fascists. You should read this bearing in mind that what I thought in the past might not be what I think now.

Number 3 was diagnosed with dyspraxia a while ago and as he’s getting older he’s displaying all the classic symptoms, not to mention being incredibly frustrating.

Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder that affects someone for their whole life.  The symptoms include being fidgetty, a lack of concentration, having difficulty adapting to new situations, frustration (with the associated mood swings) and poor co-ordination.  Here’s an everyday example of dyspraxia in action with #3: send him to his room to get dressed, he starts to put his clothes on (eventually) and can’t find his socks.  Rather than carry on getting dressed and asking for socks afterwards he’ll sit on the floor and wait until someone comes to find him or he’ll wander off half dressed and do something else.  Once he’s figured out how he’s going to do something, if he can’t do it in that order he can’t get his head around the rest of it.

We were lucky because #3 was diagnosed early and because I’m the sort of person who makes sure that they get what I want whenever possible, we got help from the local authority.  Not too much help, mind, but they’ve made some effort.  They’ve been in to see #3 at school and done assessments and helped his teacher to come up with ways to help him.  The most simple thing was giving him a chunky, three sided pencil which is the difference between squashed spider and legible handwriting.

Like I said, the local authority have made an effort but there’s still more they could be doing.  We only know what the symptoms of dyspraxia are because we’ve been on the internet and found them out.  The realisation that we’d been punishing him or getting frustrated with him over things that aren’t his fault wasn’t a nice moment but nobody told us what to expect or how to deal with it and believe me, when a 6 year old child is standing in front of you laughing hysterically when you’re telling them off for something, it’s hard to stay calm!

Have any of my readers had to cope with a child with dyspraxia?  Got any tips?

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16 comments

  1. axel (1214 comments) says:

    thats is interesting, I thought Dyspraxia was ‘number’ blindness, like dyslexia but for numbers.

    Is it in the autistic spectrum?

    I might have a whole pile of coping strategies, I have a brain injury and there is a lot of overlap on the treatment sides

    buzz me on axelmct@hotmail.com

  2. JohnJo (5 comments) says:

    Wonko, yes, my boy suffers from the same thing. It has caused all sorts of problems but most specifically has lead to significant writing difficulties. Dyspraxia affects children in many different ways. Often going with it is a condition known as hypermobility. Our boy has that and it means he is not permitted to play rugby. Hypermobility basically means greater flexibility in joints etc.

    My suggestion is to get your child tested by a an occupational therapist who will be able to gage the extent of the problem and also an educational psychologist. What you want to do is build up an official track record as soon as possible. Get reports written by the therapist and psychologist. These will all help build a written record of the condition for use when asking help from schools etc (not that we’ve ound much help forthcoming).

    Building computer (typing) skills will help in the future. Our boy now takes a laptop to school and it is a significant help.

    See here:

    http://www.theenglandproject.net/wordpress/?p=723

    and here:

    http://www.theenglandproject.net/wordpress/?p=293

    all the best,

    John

  3. wonkotsane (1115 comments) says:

    Axel, it’s not in the autistic spectrum but some of the symptoms are similar to Aspergers which is. Frustration from not being able to do simple things often manifests itself in inappropriate behaviour.

    John, I’ll look at those links after I’ve done my bit of Christmas shopping for Mrs Sane. He suffers quite badly with hypermobility, he’s very flexible and his joints are quite weak as a result. He’s seen occupation therapy and in fact, he’s doing his second 6 week session at the moment – I spent an hour or so there with him today. He doesn’t have a statement because it’s not that bad, he’s actually doing very well academically with help. Concentration is a big problem for him, I guess you’ve experienced that as well. The thing I find difficult is keeping my patience with him – I know he can’t help doing the things he does, it’s just very hard to stay calm.

  4. wonkotsane (1115 comments) says:

    Axel, it’s like dyslexia with numbers but more from the processing of stuff like movement, co-ordination, etc.

    John, your lad has obviously got bigger problems than mine. I don’t envy you.

  5. axel (1214 comments) says:

    His problems sound a lot like mine, for example, if i have a shopping list, i can only pick up the things in the order they are on the list, so i tend to avoid lists as they constrain me too much

    he just needs a little more structure than average, the socks are always in the sock drawer, the pants are always in the pant drawer, things like that, it is difficult to explain to someone with a whole brain but most people do not appreciate how much everything is organised, odd wee things out of place really disrupt me or even confuse me.

    be patient with him and keep his life organised, soon he will organise it himself, he is still only wee and has’nt quite made the leap to doing it for himself yet, be patient, he’ll get there

  6. Stu (1 comments) says:

    My son was diagnosed by his school at about 10 years of age, we had never heard of it and still find that most people have no idea.
    Primary school were great, he had support at all times and we wrongly assumed that he would get the same at high school. Wrong! We had to pester them for even the slightest of help, they gave him a sort of laptop to use, it broke, then the only special needs teacher left and that was the end of that.
    We got comments like he is uncoordinated in PE and his handwriting is atrocious, we told them he had Dyspraxia and the school were supposed to be aware of this but they never seemed to get the message.

    Other symptoms are colour blindness, emotional immaturity and short term memory problems. There can be problems just looking at the board then writing things down without having to keep looking back at the board again to remember what it said.

  7. JohnJo (5 comments) says:

    One other thing re: looking at the white board at school. A lot of schools these days don’t have all the children sitting facing towards the board. If you can get the school to make sure that a dyspraxic child is always facing straight on this may well help. Many dyspraxic children also suffer from eye tracking issues. It is worth getting this tested by a specialist optician as it is a significant cause of “losing place” when scanning the board and reading etc.

  8. I have just found this website and wondered if anyone would be interested in looking at one I set up. I am a Mum of a dyspraxic son who has worked for many years in a mainstream school. I also wrote a book to help parents try http://www.discuss-dyspraxia.co.uk and http://www.woodfieldpublishers.co.uk This is not an advert as I financed this to help other parents because no one helped me.
    I write about all the things you are asking about. My personal findings are this In Europe they send children to school at 6-7 years old when motor skills are developed, speech and language and they are ready to learn. Here we send them to Nursery at 3 years. Some children are not developed and this is when the problems start. Through ignorance in schools and funding these children climb up the SEN register untill they are diagnosed by experts and given the label “Dyspraxia” parents are given strategies to cope with all the difficulties that are imbedded. I screen children in Nursery (yes! they do show symtoms) and in reception/year 1 develop weaknesses and childrens brains work at the same time. We used to have Autism/aspergers, ADHD, dyslexia, learning/behaviour difficulties on our SEN register creeping up. We have noe dealt with what I see was the root cause and we have none. I have used preventitive medicine. The evidence is 120 children later and happy parents with happy kids who now love school. As for Johnjo. All the children had tracking difficulties and I now look at all the four modulities. Ears,mouth,motors and eyes. If a baby is expected to learn at the same time it moves its limbs to fixate an object and track it. What happens if its body is also moving constantly(motor difficulties) they dont learn this basic skill. I now do tracking exercises to strengthen this. One child even after 2 years had this problem. Now after 2 years with a trained optometrist who discovered a small peripheral is having light therapy. His handwriting is better than mine.

  9. bigboo (1 comments) says:

    Dyspraxia is a paranormal disorder. The reason for this is that there is no known physical or scientific test that can determine whether a person has this. The only means by which dyspraxics are diagnosed is through them performing actions that are less coordinated than some other people. In this respect it can be seen that there is Dyspraxia spectrum, ie. Jonny Wilkinson is excellent at running and catching a ball, others are good but not as good as he is, still others are OK but not good and yet others are terrible. In other words it’s normal physiology, spread out across the population. Compare with running. A few people can run 100 metres in ten seconds, some take longer, some much longer and some couldn’t do it at all. Is this condition to be called Dysprintia?

  10. wonkotsane (1115 comments) says:

    bigboo, I disagree and I’d be interested to know where you got that perception. There are certain key indicators that can be used to give at least a preliminary diagnosis of dyspraxia and a set of symptoms common to people suffering from it. In the case of my son as soon as he tried to walk on the sides of his feet he made a fist and pulled his arms up to his body and the doctor knew just form that that he had dyspraxia.

  11. axel (1214 comments) says:

    Bigboo, you are not quite right, it is not a paranormal condition (how cool would it be if it was though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    A lot of conditions are now graded like this, for example, I do not have PTSD, i failed the test but i still exhibit lots of symptoms

    Young wonko has scored enough points in the exam, to be counted as having Dyspraxia?

    i removed the humour as you might not laugh and come and hunt me down but you know what i mean

  12. Oh!Bigboo, I would love you to be in a room with the children (120 so far)that I have screened. It is just like wonkotsane said. When a child makes its first movement to grasp an object messages go around up to 5 nueral pathways (roads)after 6 months the unneccessary pathways break away and it goes from 1-2 and movements become rapid. Unfortunately 5 nueral pathways remain in Dyspraxic children so processing is delayed. The body still does this and when a child goes to move one limb the whole body moves and this is where children appear to look clumsy. You are so right in that i ask children to move one part of the body and the whole body mirrirs the movement. As for running, as all children are different but I have had elite atheletes who were also Dyspraxic. A child who was a brilliant footballer, a proffessional ballet dancer and many many runners, but if you asked them to co-ordinate arms and feet together they were useless. Dyspraxic children can eventually develop their motor skills and screening misses this but by this time they have all the difficulties )slow processing, spacial, learning/behaviour difficulties etc) left to contend with. Luckily in my school I can now screen (yes really screen) children early and stop Dyspraxia causing trouble. Ooooh I wish I could ………..

  13. Lisa (2 comments) says:

    Hi OMG That could have been about my son, he has Dyspraxia or DCD as it is sometimes called, he has problems with his academics but he is amazing at sports which is weird, The OT said he is very subtle and unless you are a trained professional it would be hard for someone to spot, He is also left handed but is embarassed using special pens etc, he is 9 now but it took forever for the school to take me seriously and assess him. He also has Hyper Mobility, which doesnt help the situation. He likes school to socialise but is not impressed with Maths, French and RE, he seems to like the other subjects and he loves PE.

  14. A. chorzelski (1 comments) says:

    What kinds of toys or learning resources would be fun and helpful for a child with dyspraxia?

    • wonkotsane (1115 comments) says:

      You need 2 approaches – simple toys for bad days and challenging toys for good days but nothing small and fiddly. For bad days, choose something chunky and simple like big cars, big action figures, etc. On a bad day expect them to be treated roughly because of co-ordination problems and frustration. On good days choose something a bit more challenging with more moving parts.

  15. Just.A.Mum (1 comments) says:

    Hi there,
    My son is 9 and we found out when he was 3and a half that he has dyspraxia. We knew from a lot earlier than that that something wasn’t quite right with milestones etc, but people always just said “he’ll grow out of it”. Yeah right. We have fought and fought for our son to get some help at school and the ‘professionals’ have also noted that he has dyslexia. Yay. He has a lot of difficulty with reading and writing and he is reading and writing at the age of a 5 year old. You are right, it is not a nice feeling when you discover you have punished them for something that was not their fault, but just who they are. We once got told that a child with dyspraxia will be able to do things and then one day they won’t be able to access the information they need to do what they need to do. We have what we call our ‘ups’ which is when he seems to be functioning at this best and they are great. They give you hope. It is a long and very frustrating road. Deep breathing and a truck and trailer load of patience is required. Our son has huge sequencing issues (dressing, days, time, order of numbers etc). We have recently begun the Dore Programme. If interested, visit my blog and have a chat. I’m trying to get parents like us talking and trying things.
    sighorscream.blogspot.co.nz

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