Dyspraxia is caused by an immaturity of the brain resulting in messages not being properly transmitted from the brain to the body. It may help if you think of it as a problem with the internal wiring of the brain. The incidence of Dyspraxia is approximately 2 people in 100 (2% of the population). Within the group of people with this difficulty there is a spread, with some affected much more than others. There is a much greater chance of males being affected, the male female split being 70% and 30% respectively. As with any diagnosed condition, as educators or parents we always have to view things, not from the position of what is wrong, but from the standpoint of what works. What strengths does the child have? How can we teach this child? To achieve a level of knowledge sufficient to teach the child and thus assist in the child maximising their development and potential we must ask questions. Questions such as, when did the child show evidence of really engaging in a task? When was the child put off by a task? What was different about the two tasks? It is only by the use of reflective and analytical teaching approaches that we will discover the way to teach any child who has special needs and difficulties. The educational psychologist is often crucial in facilitating this approach to learning about the child's learning.
As with any parent or teacher applied checklist, you are not making a diagnosis. The diagnosis of Dyspraxia is a highly skilled task. Please use this checklist to see if it seems to “fit” the child. Not all Dyspraxic children will meet all the indicators. If there does seem to be a good “fit” then it would be useful to refer the child to a professional who is in a position to provide an accurate assessment and diagnosis. In the UK this is often done by a speech therapist and occupational therapist working together.
- People describe the child as being clumsy, you suspect this is due to a weak sense of body awareness.
- The child has poor posture
- They may walk awkwardly.
- Laterality confusion, check this by: Asking which hand s/he writes with, which foot s/he takes kicks a ball with, ask them to look through a cardboard tube, which eye do they hold it up to? Hand them your watch, which eye do they hold it up to? Does everything happen with the same side or are
- some things done left sided and others right sided?
- The child may have difficulties throwing and catching, even with quite a large soft ball.
- You may notice that the child is much more sensitive to touch than other children.
- There may be objections to wearing some clothes and other routine events such as the application of plasters, having their hair brushed or teeth brushed because the child finds this uncomfortable.
- Parents and teachers may be frustrated or have noticed that the child forgets tasks learned the previous day or there is evidence to suggest that the child has a weak working memory (short term memory).
- There will probably be reading and writing difficulties
- There is a very strong chance that the child cannot hold a pen or pencil properly.
- Does the child have a weak sense of direction?
- The child has had real difficulties with or cannot hop, skip or ride a bike.
- The child was much slower than most children to learn to dress or feed themselves.
- Parents and teachers may have noticed there is a difficulty in answering simple questions even though they know the answers.
- There may be evidence of speech problems perhaps with the child being slow to learn to speak or speech may be difficult to understand.
- It is possible that the child has a difficulty with phobias and perhaps obsessive behaviour.
- The child may be frustrated and impatient more than one would expect for a child of their age.