As part of Dyspraxia Week let’s have a brief look at what Dyspraxia is and how it might look.
Dyspraxia manifests differently in each individual, influenced by various factors such as age, environmental demands, opportunities for skill development, and the support received from their surroundings. Nevertheless, there are common signs and symptoms that educators should be aware of:
Dyspraxia affects various aspects of life, making everyday activities more challenging for those who experience it. While the signs of Dyspraxia may manifest differently in each individual, some common indicators include:
- Movement: Dyspraxia primarily manifests as difficulties in coordinating both large and small body movements. Common physical signs of Dyspraxia include:
- Awkward and unsmooth movements.
- Increased physical and mental effort required for tasks that others find easy.
- Poor spatial awareness leading to more trips, bumps, and bruises.
- Challenges in learning new motor skills or applying them in different situations.
- Organisation and Planning: Many individuals with Dyspraxia struggle with organising themselves, their belongings, and their thoughts. Some may also face difficulties related to attention, memory, and time management, which can often be more challenging than the underlying movement issues.
- Speech and Language: Some individuals with Dyspraxia find it challenging to keep up with conversations, leading to long, awkward pauses before responding. In severe cases, verbal Dyspraxia may cause significant difficulties in coordinating precise movements required for clear speech.
How Prevalent is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia affects approximately 5% of school-aged children, with around 2% experiencing more severe symptoms. These difficulties often persist into adolescence and adulthood. It’s worth noting that males are more likely to be affected by Dyspraxia than females, although females may not receive a diagnosis until later in life. It’s common for individuals with Dyspraxia to have other co-occurring conditions as well.
Understanding the Cause:
The exact cause of Dyspraxia remains unclear, but it is believed to result from disruptions in the transmission of messages between the brain and the body. Certain risk factors, such as premature birth, low birth weight, and a family history of coordination difficulties, may increase the likelihood of an individual developing Dyspraxia. Importantly, Dyspraxia is not caused by brain damage, illness, or injury. It is a distinct condition.
Identifying Dyspraxia in Children:
Recognising Dyspraxia in children can be challenging, but the presence of several signs may suggest its presence:
- Delays in acquiring early motor skills, such as sitting, crawling, or walking.
- Difficulty in activities like running, jumping, catching, or throwing compared to peers.
- Awkward, slow, or hesitant movements.
- A need for explicit instruction in physical skills rather than picking them up naturally.
- Frequent trips and falls.
- Poor pencil grip and immature writing.
- Struggles with dressing and using utensils.
- Difficulty with spatial concepts.
- Challenges in social interactions, low self-esteem, and anxiety.
- Difficulty paying attention and reacting to stimuli without discrimination.
- Improved performance in one-on-one or small-group settings.
- Struggles in following instructions and managing time.
- Frequent losses of belongings.
Recognising Dyspraxia early is crucial for identifying and addressing the physical, learning, social, and emotional needs of individuals with this condition. Providing appropriate support can help them reach their full potential and succeed in their educational journey. As educators, it is our responsibility to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all students, including those with Dyspraxia.