Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder that affects physical coordination and movement. It is also known as the Clumsy-child Syndrome, Developmental Coordination disorder (DCD) and Motor Dysfunction.
Under Dyspraxia the problem with coordination is caused by a disconnect between the brain and the body. The brain of a dyspraxic child is unable to get the body to do what it wants.
Dyspraxia can have a range of effects such as inability to plan, coordinate, organize, move or perform actions. It has nothing to do with intellectual or physical deficits but is linked to immature neurological development.
What causes Dyspraxia?
There are no known obvious causes of Dyspraxia. Most professionals attribute the condition to immature neural development. Nerve cells in the brain may not develop properly as a result of premature birth or brain damage during gestation. Low birth weight and other pregnancy related issues can also result in DCD.
Like most other disorders Dyspraxia can also be hereditary i.e. children with a family member similarly affected are at a greater risk than other children.
What are the signs of Dyspraxia?
Signs of Dyspraxia are present from very early on but a definite diagnosis cannot be made until a child is 5 years old or more since each child varies in their developmental stages.
Symptoms tend to vary depending on the age of the person however the condition causes difficulty in following key areas:
- Fine and Gross motor skills
- Motor planning
The most common signs of dyspraxia are:
- Delayed developmental milestones (such as crawling, walking, potty training etc.)
- Unusual body positions
- Poor balance, posture and hand-eye coordination
- Poor spatial awareness
- Body coordination problems (problems with running, writing, playing)
- Accident prone
- Feeding and sleeping problems
- Fatigue and clumsiness
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Restlessness, irritability and fidgeting
What can help kids improve?
Dyspraxia is not completely curable but can get better with therapeutic intervention. Some symptoms of dyspraxia may even resolve with age. The earlier the intervention starts the better are the results.
Usually treatment entails therapy which allows a child to better manage the symptoms and enhances their abilities. Specialists such as occupational therapists, Speech-language therapists, psychologists, behavior-analysts and pediatricians most commonly treat children with dyspraxia. Treatment plan is generally tailored to your child and depends on the severity of condition, age of the child and presence of any coexisting conditions.
How can I support my child at home?
- Provide praise and encouragement to your child.
- Use simple instructions.
- Provide breaks and an opportunity to pause what they’re doing.
- Break large tasks into smaller ones.
- Alter materials of use e.g. using a pen grip or a lined paper to facilitate writing.
- Introduce alternatives to writing e.g. matching, typing or coloring can replace writing since writing can be frustrating for a dyspraxic child.
- Always be prepared to help with tasks that involve fine motor skills e.g. cutting or folding.
- Use visual aids as much as possible.
- Set realistic goals for all tasks to be performed.
- When teaching a new skill, start with small and less difficult steps and build on them.
- Recognize their strengths and provide opportunities to succeed.
If you think your child is struggling with physical coordination and movement, talk to our professional therapists to find out how you can help your child cope with these motor difficulties.