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The Specific Learning Difficulty of

Dysphaxia
How can I help?
What is Dyspraxia? Dys: Difficulty Praxia: Planning and automatic organization of movement. Dyspraxia can thus be defined as impaired ability to conceptualize, organize and direct purposeful movement (Addy) or, more simply, getting our bodies to what we want, when we want and how we want without conscious effort. What this means is that it is not actually the motor skills alone that are causing the problem, but the ability to plan and carry out movements so that a childs performance in movement may be significantly below their performance in other areas. It is a specific developmental disorder which can also involve language, spatial and thought processes.

Checklist of Early Childhood Behaviours 0-3 These may include the following: Irritable and difficult to comfort from birth Feeding problems and messy eater Poor sleepers Delayed early development : sitting, rolling and not going through a stage of crawling Sensitivity to high levels of noise or changes in light intensity Problems with toilet training Delayed language development Easily upset Weak concentration Parents notice that there is something different The child frequently trips when running Has difficulty sitting at table and chair Unable to hop one foot Holds crayon in fist

Parents are often made to feel that they are worrying unnecessarily and their insights into their childs struggles are dismissed as they are advised that their child will catch up in their own time. It is only when the child transfers to an early years setting that that their concerns will be taken more seriously by staff who are experts in child observation. The exposure to structured and unstructured activities makes the difficulties more obvious to identify, as well as providing opportunities to observe the child interacting with others of a similar age.

In the period from 2-7 years of age children should be acquiring many movement skills which form the foundation of movements they will use throughout life. The rate and timings of individual progress depends on their own unique rate of development within broadly defined time-scales and is dependent on environmental, cultural and genetic factors. However, there are well-established milestones which are indicators of developmental status and which can be used to support concerns about a childs level of functioning and which can alert practitioners to the possibility of a child showing signs of dyspraxia.

Gross motor skills The child may be experiencing difficulties with a combination of these skills and this may vary according to time of day and circumstance. Tripping when running, awkward running style Balancing Jumping Hopping Skipping Climbing Ball skills: throwing a ball with direction Catching a ball at age 4 Lack of rhythm and a tendency to be physically awkward. Awkward walking on stairs Difficulties in P.E. and with apparatus

Fine motor skills such as Making marks on paper Cutting with scissors Making models Clumsy when manipulating toys

Other Characteristics Poor spatial organization Sensitivity to noisy environments Difficulties in getting dressed and undressed Difficulties with eating skills Easily distracted by everyday sensory stimulation such as interactive whiteboards, lively wall displays Poor attention span Poor articulation: speech may be muddled Easily confused

What is the Difference between Dyspraxia and Developmental Co-ordination Disorder? (DCD) The Dyspraxia Foundation details some other terms for dyspraxia including Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), PerceptuoMotor Dysfunction, and Motor Learning Difficulties. It used to be known as Minimal Brain Damage and Clumsy Child Syndrome. Some

professionals would use DCD as an umbrella term and it tends to be used more internationally where Dyspraxia is used more in the U.K.

Children with dyspraxia are part of a larger group which has come to be termed developmental disabilities. Children described in this way may include those with a diagnosis of: Developmental Dyslexia Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder Autistic Spectrum Disorder Specific Language Impairment

The implication of this is that children who have a diagnosis of dyspraxia may also have an overlap with one or more of the conditions above and that children with Dyspraxia are at risk of problems in learning, attention and social functioning. If you have one difficulty, you are likely to have more than one difficulty. How to Support Parents Parents may be advised to consult their GP, taking with them some evidence such as a developmental checklist (P) to support their concerns about their childs development. The setting can help parents by providing paperwork such as an Individual Education Plan (P) which all staff are aware of.

Parents can also be supported by the setting by providing them with simple ways to help their child develop greater confidence and skill with enjoyable activities to carry out at home (P).

How to support Identify strengths in other areas of the childs functioning Increase opportunities for social play and use focused praise when successful. Adapted resources e.g. scissors