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Monday, July 25, 2011

Dyspraxia - What is it and how we can assist.

by Kits4Kids Foundation on Monday, July 25, 2011 at 1:18am
Developmental dyspraxia is surprisingly common in both children and adults. As a “hidden disability” it is not immediately obvious to onlookers that the child or adult who is affected has any special needs. Indeed, many will have been unfairly labelled as lazy, clumsy, forgetful, disorganised, disruptive and out of step with their peers.
What exactly is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. It is a lifelong condition that can affect small and large muscle movements and generally results in a lack of body coordination and poor awareness of the body in space - hence lots of accidents, feelings of failure and low self-esteem.
Physical activities:
  • Hard to learn – the individual movements are hard if not impossible to coordinate and combine, particularly for complex activities which also involve travelling such as running, riding a bike or driving a car
  • Harder when the activity is out of sight, such as fastenings on the back of clothes or when using toilet tissue
  • Difficult to remember and generalise – this is why people with dyspraxia can appear to have learned a skill one day and forgotten it the next
  • Movements appear hesitant and awkward
  • Difficulty carrying out everyday activities that others take for granted, such as tying shoe laces or using a knife and fork
  • Speech may be immature or unintelligible in the early years
  • Language may be impaired or late to develop
  • Verbal dyspraxia - for some children the primary difficulty is making and coordinating the precise movements necessary for the production of spoken language - this can occur in isolation or together with general motor coordination difficulties
  • Handwriting is often very challenging for people with dyspraxia
  • Difficulty planning and organising thoughts
  • Difficulty foreseeing problems and thinking through alternatives
  • Difficulty planning for and remembering personal and school activities
Social & Emotional:
  • Difficulty listening in group conversations
  • Difficulty understanding facial expressions and social norms with poor ability to pick up on non-verbal messages
  • Poor performance in activities that others enjoy, such as playing football or leaning to swim can isolate people with dyspraxia from their peers
  • Perception of self as ‘lazy, clumsy, naughty’ – this often results in low self-esteem and behavioural problems For some people, dyspraxia is not picked up early in childhood so they carry this “hidden” disability into adult life. Adults with dyspraxia may find themselves employed in jobs far below their capabilities and they may have ongoing problems with everyday tasks such as cooking and domestic chores.
How common is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is thought to affect up to 6 percent of the UK population – many experience severe difficulties with everyday practical activities, social relationships and organising their thoughts, language and actions. As a result they can appear disorganized, lazy, clumsy and rude. Everyday tasks such as dressing, eating, toileting and writing are distressing and difficult and as a result children and adults with dyspraxia have consistently low self-image and self esteem.
People with dyspraxia feel they have failed at so many things, no matter how hard they try – in fact it is society which has failed them by taking so long to recognize their condition and to put into place social, medical and educational facilities to help them. And although dyspraxia can cause problems in the classroom, it’s no indication of academic ability and people with dyspraxia can be very bright.
How would I recognize a child with dyspraxia?
Early recognition of the symptoms of dyspraxia can make a big difference to the lives of children and those around them.
How can parents and teachers help children with Dyspraxia?
Early recognition enables the special educational and social needs of the child with dyspraxia to be identified, and there is much that can be done to help alleviate the distress of children who struggle with the condition. If you suspect your child has dyspraxia, talk to your GP and Health Visitor: they can refer your child to a paediatrician or a Child Development Centre. The appropriate psychologist, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist or occupational therapist can then assess your child for dyspraxia.
What about the future?
Although dyspraxia cannot be cured, symptoms in children and adults can lessen if they are given appropriate treatment and practical support to minimise the day- to- day difficulties that they experience. Awareness and understanding are key to taking away the stigma of dyspraxia, and a positive approach can help to boost self-esteem and to ensure that people affected by the condition can reach their full potential.

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