In Learning Disabilities

What is Dyspraxia and How to Overcome it?


How to treat Dyspraxia, (DCD) with early detection and prevention in children and some adults.

Dyspraxia definition:

What is Dyspraxia (DCD): DCD is an umbrella term to cover motor coordination difficulties. It refers to people who have problems in carrying out motor actions in the right order daily. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and thought. The prevalent Dyspraxia definition is that it is a neurological condition affecting an individual’s ability to plan and process movements. (DCD) is a common disorder in children and some adults. The condition may be a result of a malfunction of several areas of the brain. Dyspraxia runs in families and several genes may be to blame. Environmental influences, including diet, may also be causes.

Who has Dyspraxia?

Increasingly children are identified as having this condition. Early recognition of Dyspraxia promotes intervention and offers practical steps to help your child achieve his and her potential. Babies born with this condition are often fussy and show significant feeding issues and are slow to achieve developmental milestones. For example, by the age of eight months babies may not be able to sit independently. Many children with Dyspraxia fail to go through the crawling stages before learning to walk. On the plus side, children whose Dyspraxia are identified at an early stage are less likely to have problems being accepted by their peers. Following are the descriptions of some of the behavioral symptoms of the presence of Dyspraxia.

Children will demonstrate very high levels of motor activity, such as swinging of feet, tapping, hand-clapping or twisting. Most children will be unable to stay still, while some will also show excitability such as speaking in a loud, shrill voice. Often these children can appear distressed and have difficulty controlling their temper.

Children with the condition may also experience physical difficulties such as constantly bumping into objects, poor balance, and other motor difficulties. A more in-depth look into Dyspraxic behavior will reveal situations that include but are not limited to difficulty in holding a pencil or using scissors, inability to confirm their laterality (left-or right-handedness), and lack of a fear of heights. Dyspraxic children normally leave their tasks unfinished.

As children advance by age, a seven-year old might exhibit symptoms where they cannot easily adapt to a structured school routine. Later these problems can escalate where they show difficulty getting involved with physical education because they are slow at dressing and cannot tie their shoe laces. Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe revealed that he has Dyspraxia and that to this day he rues the fact that Velcro did not make it enough stores!!

Physical symptoms, such as migraines, headaches, and feeling sick in general are evident. Eight to nine year old children with Dyspraxia may become disaffected with the education system. By the time they reach secondary education their attendance record is usually bad.

How to better diagnose and treat those who have Dyspraxia.

Dyspraxia affects up to six per cent of people, most of whom are male. School teachers can safely assume that every class has at least one child with the condition. In some cases, the rate could well be over 50 per cent. In an athlete, for example, messages are transmitted clearly and instantly. In a child the message is altered to where when he or she hears the same instruction it is instead to wear heavy boots. While most children and adults with Dyspraxia are often of above-average intelligence, signs of children with this will commonly include their failure to reach developmental milestones. Timely diagnosis can clear the way for special accommodations to be made such as increased support in the classroom for the child and extra time for key stage exams.

Having official proof that the child has Dyspraxia provides the necessary reason for schools to get more funding for expenditures and can provide essential support for a family. In such scenarios, there is a good chance that the child will go on to further education.

Studies suggest Dyspraxia may be caused by an immaturity of neuron development in the brain which is hereditary as genes have been implicated in its diagnosis. Experts believe the person’s nerve cells which control muscles (motor neurons) are not developed correctly. Usually Dyspraxia can be diagnosed by either a clinical psychologist, an educational psychologist, a pediatrician, or an occupational therapist. Interestingly, teachers have been shown to provide significantly more accurate diagnosis of Dyspraxia than doctors given that learning difficulties are usually an indicator. Although the condition is not curable, with time children can get better. As expected, the earlier a child is diagnosed, the better and faster his or her improvement will be.

For parents and school officials several avenues are available to manage Dyspraxia effectively. An occupational therapist will be the first to observe how the child manages everyday functions at home and at school. He or she will provide support to help the child develop skills specific to carrying out activities which may be troublesome. A speech and language therapist will conduct an assessment of the child’s speech to help him or her communicate better.

A perceptual motor training specialist can be hired to improve the child’s language, visual, movement, and auditory skills. Another form of treating Dyspraxia in children and adults is through Equine therapy. Tests have proven that riding therapy stimulated and improved participants’ cognition, mood and gait.

It has been recognized that active play in children through physical activity will get their motor activity to function better.

Active play is where a very young child’s physical and emotional learning, language, special awareness, the development of what their senses are come together. Play is a way for children to learn about the environment and about themselves. Children need to be made to engage in physical activity which can be outdoors or inside the home. For children aged three to five active play is a crucial part of their learning. If parents are not careful, children with this disorder may experience physical and verbal bullying. Physical bullying can be hitting, pushing, poking or tripping.

It also includes having property stolen. Verbal bullying occurs in the form of name-calling, teasing, having lies been told and being verbally threatened. It may include being left out of games, being ignored, or being told that a person is useless, an idiot etc. Dyspraxia is a recognized disability. It has been reported that a child while pouring a drink of juice will miss the cup because the cup never seems to be where he or she anticipated. Such events can cause confusion, misunderstanding, social clumsiness and bullying. These actions may lead to him or her to focus intensely on future events such as birthdays, or on topics that interest him as a means of escaping their toxic environment. Children may constantly repeat questions and their answers to fix them in their minds. Such symptoms and their associated frustrations can make children with Dyspraxia seem immature.

Practical advice on Dyspraxia

The Dyspraxic child needs encouragement and clearly defined and achievable goals. Physical education teachers can do a great deal to preserve self-esteem and the reputation of the student with his or her peer group when he or she requires extra time and help to get dressed. Using theater groups as a buddy system to include dyspraxic students with the rest of the class are a good way of building friendships and self-esteem. This strategy will undoubtedly make the transition of children from primary to the secondary school smooth. Using a buddy system ensures that the information passes quickly between schools so that children will not feel isolated in the more complex environment of secondary schools.

Some parents have also found that regular one-to-one swimming lessons can help ease motor difficulties. The water provides enough support to allow a child’s limbs to be moved in a particular sequence. The slow process of swimming makes it easier for a child to remember instructions and can provide a model for different activities. An exercise bike provides the co-ordination of cycling without danger, as Dyspraxia may cause many to lose their sense of danger. Computer games can help to develop hand-eye co-ordination. Dyspraxia can be improved by taking highly unsaturated fatty acids, such as essential fatty acid Omega-3, fish and evening primrose oil. Finally, is it must be noted that the key to success for Dyspraxic children is a supportive learning environment and it is up to schools to provide this requirement.

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