What is Dyspraxia?
Developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia, is a condition affecting physical co-ordination that causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for his or her age, and appear to move clumsily.
Movement Matters, an umbrella organisation representing major national groups in the UK that represent people with coordination difficulties offers the following definition:
“Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. DCD is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke, and occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present: these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experiences, and will persist into adulthood.”
Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY.
Recognising a child with Dyspraxia
The pre-school child:
- Is late in reaching milestones e.g. rolling over, sitting, standing, walking, and speaking
- May not be able to run, hop, jump, or catch or kick a ball although their peers can do so
- Has difficulty in keeping friends; or judging how to behave in company
- Has little understanding of concepts such as ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘in front of’ etc
- Has difficulty in walking up and down stairs
- Poor at dressing
- Slow and hesitant in most actions
- Appears not to be able to learn anything instinctively but must be taught skills
- Falls over frequently
- Poor pencil grip
- Cannot do jigsaws or shape sorting games
- Artwork is very immature
- Often anxious and easily distracted
The school age child:
- Probably has all the difficulties experienced by the pre-school child with dyspraxia, with little or no improvement
- Avoids PE and games
- Does badly in class but significantly better on a one-to -one basis
- Reacts to all stimuli without discrimination and attention span is poor
- May have trouble with maths and writing structured stories
- Experiences great difficulty in copying from the blackboard
- Writes laboriously and immaturely
- Unable to remember and /or follow instructions
- Is generally poorly organised
How Educational Psychology can Help
Educational Psychologists can help the school and parents understand dyspraxia in children, and work with a child / young person who has been diagnosed, or dyspraxia is suspected. They can inform teaching staff regarding how to support the young person, and maximise their learning. Note that educational psychologists cannot give an official diagnosis of dyspraxia, you will need to speak to an occupational therapist regarding formal diagnosis.