What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a Life Long Neurological disorder caused by Neurons in the brain not connecting, synching and firing upon its proper means. There is a broad range of symptoms affecting motor planning and coordination and spanning the ocular and oral motor systems. It can affect handwriting, speech, balance, short term memory and processing. Overall intelligence is not affected, though performance is often inconsistent resulting in messages from the brain not accurately transmitted to the body.
Developmental Coordination Disorder: A lifelong neurological condition impacting Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development.
How is Dyspraxia Diagnosed?
By a Neurologist, Neuro-Psychologist or Developmental Pediatrician. OT’S AND PT’S can provide therapy but can’t diagnose the disorder.
What Are the Most Common Characteristics?
Motor Skill deficiencies, Memory, Judgment, Processing and Function delays or deficiencies, sense, language and or speech issues.
Who should I consult if I suspect?
First, please do an OT Evaluation for concerns regarding motor skills and then contact the school Psychologist for a full and proper evaluation with a Neuro Psychologist if possible because the disorder never “comes alone” and is highly Neurological and Psychological. The reason for the supports of a Neuro Psych is for full understanding of the disorder and additional concerns of co-morbid struggles.
Treating or Treatments?
Occupational Therapy- Addresses Fine and Gross Motor. Visual Motor Integration, Sensory Processing, Organization, self help skills, social skills, and emotional regulation Physical Therapy addresses gross motor deficits (for kids who also have accompanying Hypotonia). Speech therapy addresses articulation as well as auditory processing, comprehension, and organization of ideas.
Social Skills and Counseling fosters emotional intelligence, promotes social skills and provides positive behavior supports
Behavioral Optometry helps to develop ocular motor muscles for concerns of safety and danger of depth and perception issues.
Dyspraxia helpful learning strategies:
1:1 aide for challenging subjects, transitions and periods.
Preferential seating or use of supportive seating.
Adaptive equipment for writing, i.e. pencil grips, hand weights, or specialized paper. Alternative means to demonstrate knowledge, I.E. Oral Reports or Answers, use of Scribe, use of computer or tablet for compositions.
- Assistive Technology
- Extra Time allotted for Tests
- Written task directions and other visual aides
- Sensory Breaks
- Social Skills Groups or recess support
What are the first steps to take?
If you suspect your child is not meeting his or her milestones, please push as the condition is noticeable from a young age. Here are some early symptoms to look for:
The information below is taken from A Practical Manual for Parents and Professionals by Madeleine Portwood and the Developmental Dyspraxia Foundation UK with their kind permission. Full details of the research and profiles of Dyspraxic children can be found in A Practical Manual for Parents and Professionals Behaviors 0 – 3 Years
There are many early indications that a child is dyspraxic and a summary is shown below:
- Irritable and difficult to comfort – from birth
- Feeding difficulties: milk allergies, colic, restricted diet
- Sleeping difficulties: problems establishing routine, requires constant adult reassurance
- Delayed early motor development: sitting unaided, rolling from side to side: do not usually go through the crawling stage
- High levels of motor activity: constantly moving arms and legs
- Repetitive behaviors: head banging or rolling
- Sensitive to high levels of noise
- Continued problems with development of feeding skills
- Toilet training may be delayed
- Avoids constructional toys such as jigsaws and Lego
- Delayed language development: single words not evident until age 3
- Highly emotional: easily distressed, frequent outbursts of uncontrolled behavior
- Concentration limited to 2 or 3 minutes on any task?
Summary of Behaviors 3 – 5 very High Levels of Motor Activity
- feet swinging and tapping when seated
- hands clapping or twisting
- unable to stay in one place longer than 5 minutes
- voice loud and shrill
- easily distressed
- temper tantrums
- constantly bumping into objects and falling
- associated mirror movements, hands flap when running or jumping
Difficulty Pedaling Tricycle or Similar Toy
- Poor ground awareness
- no sense of danger, jump from inappropriate heights
Continue to be Messy Eaters
- often spill liquid from drinking cups
- prefer to use fingers to feed
Avoids Constructional Toys
- building blocks (Lego)
Poor Fine Motor Skills
- pencil grip
- use of scissors
- immature drawings
Lack of Imaginative Play
- Do not enjoy ‘dressing up’ or playing appropriately in the home corner or Wendy House. – Limited creative play
Isolated in Peer Group
- prefers adult company
Laterality Still not Established
- problems crossing mid line Language Difficulties Persist
- children often referred to speech therapist
Sensitive to Sensory Stimulation
- high levels of noise
- dislike being touched or wearing new clothes
Limited Response to Verbal Instructions
- slower response time
- problems with comprehension
- tasks often left unfinished
About Dyspraxia Foundation USA
Dyspraxia Foundation USA is committed to being the number one source for children, teens, adults living with and dealing with DCD and Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia Foundation USA is dedicated to raising understanding, support and acceptance for this very common but poorly understood Neurological impairment. Our Foundation is financed solely through donations, memberships and funding through the community. We are working very hard with the support of the Department of Education to write the wrongs of a condition which has been diagnosable and talked about in historical literature for over 100 years.
For more information, please visit: www.dyspraxiausa.org
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