Dyspraxia explored

CHILD CARE

Dyspraxia explored

The condition resembles dyslexia with its symptoms, but is far less discussed, says Dr Vivek Sharma

In the Telegraph (UK),  Harry Potter- star Daniel Radcliffe has revealed that he suffers from dyspraxia, —  he sometimes has trouble tying his shoe laces. The star admitted he became an actor partly because his dyspraxia meant he was not successful at school.

About 10 per cent of the world’s population have some degree of dyspraxia, while approximately 2 per cent have it severely. If an average classroom has 30 children, there is probably one child with dyspraxia in each of those classrooms.

Dyspraxia is a disorder of motor planning and/or execution with no significant or normal findings on neurological examination. It is a disorder of the higher cortical process and there may be associated problems of perception (how the child interprets what he/she sees and hears), use of language and putting thoughts together.

The English medieval-word dyspraxia is derived from the Greek word duspraxia. This word comes from the word paraxis, which emerged from an older word ‘prassein’ (to pass through, experience practice).

Developmental dyspraxia is an immaturity in the recognition of movement. The brain does not process information in a way that allows for a full transmission of neuronal messages. A child with dyspraxia finds it hard to plan what to do, and how to do it.

Those with planning dyspraxia will have difficulties with planning a sequence or order of co-ordinated movements, actions that involve manipulations of objects. Executive dyspraxia, where there are difficulties with providing what to do but being unable to do it, moving from one activity to another and copying actions.

How would I recognise a child with dyspraxia

Children may show the following signs:

*May take longer than other children to sit, crawl (some never go through crawling stage), walk, speak, stand, became potty trained, build up vocabulary.

*Problems performing subtle movements such as tying shoe laces, doing up buttons and zips, using cutlery, writing and getting dressed.

*Problems carrying out play ground activities such as jumping, catching a ball, kicking a ball, hopping and skipping.

*Problem with colouring, drawing, using a pair of scissors.

*Problems with processing thoughts.

*Difficulty in learning new skills. At a late stage in childhood, he/she will: 

*Try to avoid sports and physical activity.

*Learn only through a one-on-one basis, but nowhere near as well in class with other kids around.

*Have difficulty coping with subjects such as Mathematics and writing. 

*Be poorly organised.

Key tips to help your child

Teachers in school, remember:

*Comparison is disastrous. Never allow a child with dyspraxia to be compared with an able child

*To praise every effort and every small accomplishment

*To make extra time during teaching

*To teach on a one-to-one level, with few distractions when possible

Parents can help by:

*Early identification

*Practising skills with the student

*Encouraging activities that enforce coordination

*Talking them through activities

*Helping them learn necessary sound skills.

*Taking the help of an occupational therapist and speech and language therapist

*By perceptual motor learning

Dyspraxic children have difficulty learning new skills — while other children may do this automatically, a child with dyspraxia takes longer. Encouragement, through consultation with an occupational and  speech therapist can help your child enormously. This does not mean the end of fun activities. Just because your child has difficulties does not imply that he or she is a difficult child. Be patient and give him/her the time to evolve and pick up  on the simple things.

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