Dyspraxia is a form of development coordination disorder (DCD) in children and adults, and is characterised by difficulty with thinking, planning and carrying out sensory/motor tasks.
It is estimated that dyspraxia affects up to 8% of the population in Ireland. However, due to its varied symptoms it can often go undiagnosed for a long time.
Symptoms are obviously different for each individual child - some may experience one or all - and include:
1. The pre-school child
- Is late in reaching milestones e.g. rolling over, sitting, standing, walking, and speaking
- May not be able to run, hop, jump, or catch or kick a ball although their peers can do so
- Has difficulty in keeping friends; or judging how to behave in company
- Has little understanding of concepts such as ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘in front of’ etc
- Has difficulty in walking up and down stairs
- Poor at dressing
- Slow and hesitant in most actions
- Appears not to be able to learn anything instinctively but must be taught skills
- Falls over frequently
- Poor pencil grip
- Cannot do jigsaws or shape sorting games
- Artwork is very immature
- Often anxious and easily distracted
2. The school-age child
- Probably has all the difficulties experienced by the pre-school child with dyspraxia, with little or no improvement
- Avoids PE and games
- Does badly in class but significantly better on a one-to -one basis
- Reacts to all stimuli without discrimination and attention span is poor
- May have trouble with maths and writing structured stories
- Experiences great difficulty in copying from the blackboard
- Writes laboriously and immaturely
- Unable to remember and /or follow instructions
- Is generally poorly organised
There is no cure for dyspraxia, but the earlier a child is treated the greater the chance of improvement will be.
A lot of the skills that people take for granted will never become automatic for children with the disorder, so they will have to be taught these skills.
Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and extra help at school can all assist these children with coping or overcoming many of the difficulties they face; Dyspraxia/DCD Ireland aims to ensure that adequate resources are available, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, psychological support and education.
To mark Dyspraxia Awareness Week 2016 (9th - 15th October), Dyspraxia/DCD Ireland will be holding a number of awareness raising events across the country; check out www.dyspraxia.ie for further details.