This section offers advice and guidance on how best to support children and young people living with Dyspraxia. The page details the implications of the syndrome on a child’s educational development and suggestions on further sources of information on the subject are offered.
What is dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a specific difficulty that affects the brain’s ability to plan sequences of movement. It is thought to be connected to the way that the brain develops. The effects that dyspraxia has on a child’s ability to function at home and at school can vary, depending on the degree of difficulty.
Difficulties may be found in some or all of the following area:
- Gross motor skills
- Poor performance in sport, general clumsiness, poor balance, difficulties in learning those skills that involve coordination of the body parts, such as riding a bike or swimming
- Fine motor skills
- Poor handwriting, often resulting from too much pressure being applied to the pencil in an attempt to control it. Conversely, the child’s writing may be neat, but extremely slow, reducing the amount of work that they can complete in a given time
- Self-help and organisation skills - dyspraxic children often take a long time to get dressed and to organise themselves in the mornings. They may find it difficult to remember what equipment is needed when, and typically will mislay their belongings at school
- Speech and language skills- Dyspraxia can be associated with a delay or disorder in expressive language skills, such as in sequencing words within a sentence, or in controlling the movements necessary to articulate certain speech sounds.
What are the learning implications
Dyspraxia can affect a pupil’s progress in school on a number of different levels.
- Poor handwriting skills affect both the speed and quality of written work. Difficulties in self-organisation can extend to difficulties in organisation of thoughts and in planning, leading in turn to disorganised or disjointed work. Often the dyspraxic child appears to have a lot of information in their head, but cannot record that information in a logical and meaningful order. Their written word does not match their apparent verbal ability. These difficulties can lead to frustration and problems with self-esteem, which can further lead to withdrawn behaviour or to acting out
- Difficulties in concentration are often associated with dyspraxia, but it is sometimes difficult to say whether these are a genuinely separate difficulty, or whether they are linked to a child’s avoidance of difficult tasks
- Children with dyspraxia can appear emotionally immature, and often awkward or clumsy in their social relationships. This can result in a degree of social isolation
How might the staff member give support?
- Encourage effort
- Boost self-esteem at every opportunity
- Ensure homework tasks are understood and not too onerous
- Provide ‘line guides’ for setting out work
- Know how the pupil should sit and hold the pen, and what particular equipment might help
- Help in planning, such as making lists, sequencing events, drawing up timetables
- Encourage support from classmates
- Seek advice from an occupational therapist
Other sources of information
- Occupational therapist
- The Dyspraxia Foundation, 8 West Alley, Hitchin, Herts, SG5 1EG
- Website:Dyspraxia Foundation