Dyspraxia is not as well known as other learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Autism or Attention Deficit Disorder, but it is believed to affect around one in 20 children or young people. Many of the symptoms can be a confused with these other conditions and for some children it can lead to anger, barriers to learning and ultimately low self-esteem. For parents, it can be frustrating and emotionally upsetting to see your child struggle with everyday activities that their peers take for granted. So what is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia (also referred to as ‘Developmental Co-ordination Disorder) is a recognised specific learning difficulty which affects areas of learning in children who are otherwise of at least average intelligence. It is characterised by organisational difficulties, problems with coordination and sometimes social and communication difficulties.
Younger children may initially present with gross and fine motor skills needs. For example, they may struggle to master key skills such as riding a bike or catching and throwing or may find dressing and undressing cumbersome and time consuming, years after their friends have mastered this. Handwriting is likely to be laboured and behind age related expectations, even though they may have good ideas for writing.
Difficulties with organisation may become especially noticeable as the child is expected to become more independent. They may be the pupil who never has the right equipment for lessons or who leaves his/her belongings in the wrong places. Generalised short term memory difficulties may also be associated with Dyspraxia so they may forget all, or part of instructions. Such organisational difficulties can also be associated with Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder.
Some people with Dyspraxia also find aspects of social communication difficult, especially with inferred meanings such as in jokes or any non-literal language. Again this is also a feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Many children struggle with aspects of some of the above at different points, so it is important not to leap to conclusions. However, if you feel your child has long-standing struggles with co-ordination, organisation and social communication, please talk about your concerns with your teacher or myself. We are very experienced in identifying pupils who are showing signs of various difficulties, but sometimes their needs may be more, or less, prominent at home, so please don’t hesitate to keep us informed.